A cure is defined as something that relieves a person of the symptoms of a disease or condition.
Whilst there are some who subscribe to the notion that mental health issues are – in fact – mental illnesses, it is largely considered a disproved concept.
Although it’s true that medication can help individuals with mental health issues, altering the chemistry of the brain to stimulate – or suppress – the various cognitive centres only masks the problem, it doesn’t relieve anything.
There are unquestionably times when medication can help. An individual in crisis can use medication to stabilise themselves enough to seek the support they need.
Although there is evidence to suggest that some mental health issues could be hereditary, there is no specific gene linked to mental health issues. It is more likely that a quirk of brain chemistry makes the individual susceptible to mental health issues rather than being the cause altogether.
The truth is that social and economic factors such as major traumas, abuse, poverty or isolation are far more likely to be the cause of mental health issues.
The suggestion of a cure implies that the individual is sick, diseased or in some way deficient. This is both unhelpful and misleading.
It’s true that the individual can work through their mental health issues so they are no longer a problem but they are not cured because they were never ill in the first place.
Plus one must acknowledge that for some, mental health issues can occur multiple times in their lives.
Subscribing to the idea that mental health issues are illnesses would mean classifying them as incurable which is profoundly damaging to the individual’s wellbeing but their place in a community also.
Mental health issues are just that. There is no hidden meaning.
An individual can develop mental health issues for any number of reasons, at any point in their lives and they can manifest in a host of different ways.
Although there are approximately 200 defined diagnoses for mental health issues the reality is that the individual’s issues and the challenges they face as a result are profoundly unique to them.
Just because two people have low self-worth or a history of self-harm doesn’t mean the causes are the same, the severity of the challenges are the same or they even self-harm in the same way.
One of the most important aspects of supporting an individual with mental health issues is acknowledging that their fight is a personal one.
Whilst they may have a diagnosis it does not mean that they experience depression or anxiety about the same things as anyone else.
Simply taking a clinical approach to something that is entirely psychological and – more importantly – emotional simply makes no sense.
A Different Way
Whether we have challenges or not we are all wired in roughly the same way. We all have five core emotions that the logical part of our mind help to give meaning to when we interact with and respond to the wider world.
This is one of the reasons why anxiety attacks can feel so overwhelming – because it’s coming from the limbic part of our mind that doesn’t have language. Our feelings are hard to explain because we have no words, just feelings.
By adopting the idea that the individual is neither unwell or in need of fixing, supporting them becomes an entirely more positive endeavour.
Instead showing them compassion and understanding can give them the strength to take the difficult step towards accessing support.
That’s not to say there won’t be difficult days. The nature of depression can cause the individual to push people away, all the while wishing they could be closer. We cannot emphasise enough that mental health issues can be very lonely.
If you know someone with mental health issues – or you suspect they have mental health issues – encourage them to engage with mental health services and talking therapies.
Medication may help but in all instances it’s advisable for the individual to speak to their GP if for no other reason than to make them aware.
The most important thing is that the individual feels supported and get their help they need.
Encompass Dorset supports individuals with enduring mental health issues. If you or someone you know could benefit from our help, contact us today.