How We Can Change The Landscape of Mental Health Care For The Better
The current landscape of mental health care is not working.
For starters, the stigma still exists. It’s true people are more open to talking about mental health now. However, there are still those who say “it’s all in your head” or associate it with insanity, straitjackets, padded walls, and electroshock therapy.
Why Does The Stigma Exist?
The stigma against mental health traces its history to centuries back. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that mental health issues began to be treated as health issues. Yet centuries have passed and dated misconceptions perpetuate stigma we are working hard to get rid of.
These misconceptions make it difficult for people to open up and seek help. As a result, they continue to struggle with their mental health.
Adding to that is the concept of “saving face”. The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines this as “an act in which one attempts to uphold one’s dignity” by downplaying or hiding circumstances society considers as ‘shameful’.
Mental health and things that, if accepted would mean better mental health for many, are still seen as taboo.
Parts of the world are seeing progress but not everyone is going at the same pace. There is disparity in the way people treat each other. On a government level, many healthcare systems have no space for mental health care.
Accessibility of Mental Health Resources Today
The world as it is isn’t doing enough for people who need help.
A large portion of the world’s population live in countries with below the prescribed psychiatrist to population ratio.
Even in places where mental health solutions are more present, there is still a high barrier of entry. These obstacles come in the form of cost, availability, accessibility, and – a factor most fail to consider – approachability.
These solutions consist primarily of therapy and counselling. Don’t get us wrong. Therapy works and is highly recommended. Yet the limited number of mental health professionals and fees that many can’t afford leave an inexcusably large population to live their day-to-day struggling with pain and distress.
The Landscape Of Mental Health is Changing… Slowly
Mental health is slowly moving into the mainstream with increased public awareness. Celebrities and sports stars openly talking about their mental health struggles spark conversations and improve public perceptions.
By speaking out, these public figures send the message that mental health is something everyone deals with and that talking about it helps.
People are understanding that mental health is a part of our lives as much as physical health is and not just something “crazy” or “psychotic” people have to deal with.
This is where the factor of ‘approachability’ comes in. People need to see that mental health solutions aren’t intimidating and that people wouldn’t judge them for seeking them.
Therapy is also no longer diagnosis-centric. Mental health professionals have developed many different subdisciplines of therapy. Each is designed with the goal of helping clients and patients with different challenges. Additionally, a therapist may be an expert in a certain technique, or they might specialize in a niche: family, trauma, LGBTQ+, addiction, grief, multicultural issues, and so on.
Where Mental Health Needs To Be
While 1-on-1 therapy will always be fundamental in the road to better mental health, public education is becoming increasingly important.
People are a key part of resolving the mental health crisis.
Humans are social beings and have survived history by helping each other. Mental health is an intersectional thing: the status of our society, how we treat each other, and how we provide for each other can resolve many of what triggers mental health concerns today.
These stressors may include one’s financial status; their relationship with their family, friends, or romantic partners; their sense of safety and acceptance in society; the pressure to excel academically or at work; and one’s own physical health.
This being said, no one is immune to developing problems in life.
The difference lies in how we can help people as they become at risk or develop these mental health issues.
This is where public awareness and discussions are crucial. Governments can provide mental health resources and social welfare services to help more people gain access. On a personal level, we can help others around us feel more supported in our own ways.
Being The Change You Want To See
Self-care is a fundamental aspect of better mental health. Listening to the signs of how you are feeling, physically and mentally, can help you manage how you’re feeling before it gets worse.
You may try developing your own “mental health toolkit” full of resources you can tap into when you’re feeling particularly distressed. The Bravely app is full of knowledge resources, therapy skills, and exercises applicable for different mental health stressors.
You do not only help yourself but you also become more aware of how you can help others around you. Equipped with knowledge about different mental health topics and issues, you can contribute to one increasingly important aspect of mental health: a sense of community.
Share what you know or teach them therapy skills they may find useful.
On the other hand, if you’re not ready to talk to your friends for help, there are many safe spaces online or in your local community. If you are interested, you can check out our Discord channel. We’ve put together a small but growing community of people who know what it’s like to struggle with mental health, and are more than happy to help you with yours.
The landscape of mental health is changing, but it may not be changing fast enough to reach those who need support the most. We can help others by sharing resources, calling for change, and providing support to one another.
Bravely is doing the hard work with you to help change mental health as we know it.