Tag: social connection
"Mental health" going mainstream has not actually translated into more connection and healing. Instead, what is mainstream is an individual, isolating notion of "disease."
When I first presented my cards to the woman at Newport Hospital's front desk, I was greeted with a smile, but when I told her to whom I wanted them sent, her smile quickly faded. She sighed and asked me to consider handing out my cards to "the other patients" instead, as if the patients in the psychiatric unit didn't matter at all.
We wanted to challenge the conventional assumption that mental health is a static condition or attribute by suggesting that it’s more useful to think of it as an activity that people do together, rather than a thing that individuals have or don’t have. This distinction matters because we can change what we do — what we are, not so much.
If you put mortally desperate people in a room together, what do you expect? Emotions will spill over and people will jostle for time and topic. In my groups, even the most kindhearted had attempted to either become the center of attention or slink away into silence, often leaving early with a whispered “sorry” and a quick shuffle out of the room.
Does this "loneliness pill" concept amount to encouraging people to stay in their homes and take a pill rather than get socially connected in their communities or reach out to those who need it? Even if a pill could generate the same effects as physical and emotional closeness between humans, is it the right thing to do?
Could the whole array of psychiatric diagnostic categories, to the extent that they have any validity at all, be expressions of the failure to love and to accept love? Do successful psychotherapies really work by means of the therapist’s ability to encourage people to experience love through how positively he or she relates to them?
The fact that we shame people for acting like they need attention (and for actually needing attention) is self-defeating and maddening, not to mention absurd. Living in a society that punishes people for having fundamental needs like attention is probably one of the reasons people have developed behaviors “just” to “get attention.”
Of course one wishes for an easy answer, but the things that conspire to drive a person over the edge are too numerous and varied ever to point and say, it was this one; one can never really be so certain. No one can say it wasn’t that one, or that it wasn’t really all of those together, or that, when it came my own turn for “insanity,” I wasn’t standing halfway over the edge already, waiting for gravity to kick in and for me to fall.
We need to burn through some darkness before we collectively see the light. The light is a palpable shift toward reaching for human connection; toward opening our hearts and our minds and intentionally focusing on the positive future that wants to emerge.
Is a lack of social connection in the US harmful to health? In a review of social connection and health literature, researcher calls for a societal shift in values towards interdependence.
Giving money to people diagnosed with severe mental health issues can significantly improve depression and anxiety. A new study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Community Mental Health, found that giving about $73 US dollars per month for recreational spending can also reduce social isolation and strengthen a sense of self.