Perspectives On Mental Health
The following opinion is my own and is not intended to have any authoritative value. Due to the nature of psychiatric drugs please do not stop taking your medication and contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
I have casually studied psychology and counselling methods over the years. The study of the mind is indeed a very broad and subjective field. I have learned that one of the best roles a psychologist or mental health professional can play is that of a teacher or guide. In essence, you do not tell a person that they have this disorder or that disorder. Such information is not helpful. Instead one ought to help a person to live with themselves, and then to help them live with others. Proper communication is a big part of this, but something often neglected is that of love (1 Peter 4:8).
Ultimately though a mental health professional is not the solution and such involvement should be minimal at best. Primarily, the sanity of the society is the responsibility of the parents. Many studies show a direct link between the failure of the parents and the struggle of their children, as well as general dysfunction in the society at large. Any other authority figures should not seek to be authoritative as the child naturally recognises this disposition on its own. The same can be said in the case of authority figures for adults. Rather such figure should likewise embrace their roles as leader and guide. Everyone else who remains shall seek to be a friend.
It doesn't matter whether you know a person for a moment or for many years because we should always and everywhere seek to love our neighbour as our self (Mark 12:31). You will not always succeed at such a task, I should know. Make peace with this reality. All that haunts me now are those last remaining moments in time when I have been so cruel to another. I relive those memories over and over again (Psalm 51:5) and I say to myself, "You do not remember all of the details of what really happened, so do not be hard on yourself for what you think you remember happening. Nor are you aware of all of the circumstances and what is was like to be in that other's shoes. You hurt someone, it happens. Let it go and do not do that thing again (John 7:53-8:11)." Eventually I begin to believe myself and move on. With all of these things thus far, you are well on your way to keeping mental illness at a minimum. Yes, a great deal of mental illness can be traced back to incidents and encounters with other people and how we deal with such things.
It does beg the question though; how much mental illness is there in the world at this moment? I do not know. What I do know is that it is no where near as high nor is it necessarily increasing as the media would lead us to believe. For example, it is no coincidence that when pharmaceutical companies attained permission to advertise anti-depressant drugs on television, that supposed cases of depression increased dramatically. These numbers in turn are used as evidence that the incidence of depression is indeed increasing and thus more drugs and funding are needed. It is a vicious cycle.
Media is so effective that we even describe normal behaviours as being disorders. I have heard too many lively and creative people refer to themselves as having ADD or ADHD. Naturally organised people or those who are attentive to detail refer to these lovely attributes as OCD. Shy, introverted, or socially awkward people are referred to as being autistic which I think is an affront to genuinely autistic people. Finally, the thing that really grinds my gears is when beautiful, innocent children are referred to being ADD or ADHD. This is normal youthful behaviour. Aside from that, when you give children processed food and sugar guess what? They can get particularly energetic and obnoxious. If you're having a hard time keeping up you either need to work out more often or perhaps you've forgotten what it feels like to be alive. Don't you dare label those children for something that is obviously at fault with your own self!
In addition, there is this so called clinical depression which means you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. The thing is though a chemical imbalance of this degree is simply a myth. A chemical imbalance is diagnosed the same way ADD is - a compiled list of symptoms. We can know it isn't real because there is no legitimate biological test you can take that will tell you if you have this type of imbalance. There isn't even a blood test! Certainly there are studies that have looked at this claim, but they are inconclusive. They can't tell what a chemical imbalance is either. Thus if it isn't a real biological issue, you can't honestly prescribe a biological solution - a pill - to resolve the issue.
Unless of course the pill in question is a placebo. In fact, a sugar pill would actually work wonders in this case. Often when people think they are getting better, they really do begin to get better. Depression is basically the blues, and it is very normal to experience. Indeed, a person will be depressed many times as they experience the highs and lows of life. Depending on the situation and person, depression will vary from mild to severe (manic). One can better safeguard themselves by developing healthy coping mechanisms. Of course, self-medicating with food or drugs such as alcohol are not healthy and therefore are recommended against their use. Communication with a trusted person is also invaluable to anyone.
Other supposed disorders such as bipolar are imaginary as well. Many people "diagnosed" with this quite often bring it on themselves. Yes, I really just said that. I've noticed that many such people are more sensitive than most so obviously disciplining their emotions would be very important. I'm not saying one should be unemotional, but I am saying you ought to get to a point where you can feel and experience, and then choose how you want to respond. Critical thinking and communication skills are very crucial as is proper stress management. Those diagnosed as bipolar often lack some or all of these things. Do no be ashamed; you can do something about it.
Suicide is a big topic in the news these days and some very good things are being said about how it can be prevented. Did you know that, with some exceptions, incidences of suicide are not increasing? Due to its nature it is something that is not talked about and because suicide is not talked about when we hear of incidences on the news it seems like there is an epidemic. In truth, several people kill themselves every day and unless it can be sensationalised you will not hear about it on the evening news. Talking about suicide does not increase the incidence of it, but rather the suicide rate goes down. This is because by talking about it people are more able to confront the issue which means more people who are considering suicide will get help. This is one of those occasions when you should absolutely seek the guidance of a mental health professional.
The exception to the average suicide rate is the rate of suicide by members in the armed forces - the military. In the United States alone, there are 18 military suicides every single day. Yes, you read that right - 18 suicides every day. Part of the reason pertains to politics and the ethics of war which is a topic for another day. The main reason the rate is so high is because of instead of helping them deal with what they have experienced they are instead pumped with drugs. The real solution involves comprehensive support, compassion, and a lot of time. The rate could be further managed by including many of the things discussed in this post in any and all training as well as maintained throughout one's regular service.
The final topic I would like to discuss is bullying which like suicide has also been getting a great deal of media attention as of late. Did you know that incidences of bullying are not increasing? In truth, the rate of bullying is pretty static, but our awareness of it is not. There is not a single human being who has ever walked this earth who has not been bullied at some point in their life. Even Jesus Christ was bullied (Luke 4:29; Luke 22:63-65; Matthew 27:41-44). Bullying comes in a variety of forms and may be subtle or blatant. We often think of school peers as being the main source of bullying, but it can also occur among friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. I want you to know that you are not alone. Indeed, you have never been alone (Psalm 23; Matthew 28:20).