Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Mental Health Day 2013

This is my contribution to World Mental Health Day. Perhaps I should have published the book today?

From Chapter 1

        There is still a stigma attached to the subject of mental health.
        Whatever people may think, the situation is not as bad as it 
        used to be, when the very mention of someone having mental
        health problems – maybe a family member – would have
        been taboo. Nowadays, everyone knows someone who has
        experienced a mental health problem, if not within their own 
        circle of friends and family, then through a celebrity or
        sportsperson publicising their personal problems. 
  1. The term ‘mental health disorders’ covers a wide spectrum, but I wish that the term ‘emotional health problems’ could be recognised and used instead in many cases. Here, I am not including genetic disorders, or people with brain damage: a great many people given a ‘mental health disorders’ label in fact have problems controlling their emotions, and the root to their emotional distress lies in childhood. Unfortunately, many emotional health problems have become medicalised and medicated, with varying degrees of success and sometimes a multitude of associated problems. Here are some examples.

    There is an accepted belief that depression arises from a chemical imbalance in the brain, especially in the levels of a chemical called serotonin. The pharmaceutical cure suggested is chemical and provided by anti-depressants. There is some truth in the chemical imbalance in the brain, but our everyday actions can bring a change in the balance of serotonin, such as laughing, exercise, lovemaking, gardening or listening to music. Correct nutrition has its part to play too, and the role of good quality sleep is crucial.
       Anxiety disorders
       The pharmaceutical solution to anxiety disorders often has
       withdrawal effects that can cause further feelings of anxiety, 
       thus convincing a person that they still have the problem. 
       Simple breathing exercises can bring about immediate
       changes to the nervous system. That the mind and body 
       cannot be calm and anxious at the same time is a fact. An
       excess of caffeine and other stimulants can cause symptoms
       of anxiety too.

       Cognitive-behavioural therapy
       GPs often prescribe cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for
       help with emotional problems. Problems can occur if one is 
       thinking and behaving in an unhelpful manner. CBT can help 
       someone change their thoughts and behaviours to more
       useful and healthy ones. There are a variety of ways to help
       someone achieve this. A warning should be sounded about 
       prolonged therapeutic interventions, which may lead to some
       emotional wounds becoming toxic. Ensuring a person’s
       emotional needs are being met healthily, or met at all, can
       have successful outcomes, as can addressing the misuse of 
       natural abilities, such as the imagination – often in a 
       short space of time. The consequences of not having
       emotional needs met as a child can result in the adult
       searching through their life to find these unmet needs. In
       observing behaviours and using these needs as a compass, I 
       suggest that often, the missing needs of childhood are being 
       looked for decades later. The adult may be observed 
       behaving like ‘a needy child’. That’s because they were – 
       then. In the present day, there are times when that ‘needy 
       child’ can hijack the adult.

       In Yorkshire, teacher and head of department, Felicity
       Davis’s autobiography, Guard a Silver Sixpence, she explains
       that an abusive upbringing led to her emotional needs not 
       being met. She eventually realised that she was sabotaging
       loving, adult relationships by being “too needy”: I became
       dimly aware that I had been a very needy girlfriend indeed,  
       and I had scared him. I had gone round to his house at almost 
       every opportunity because it was so much more wonderful 
       than being in my own home, and I was besotted with him and 
       besotted with the whole business of feeling loved after so long
       feeling so very unloved. It was not surprising that in the end 
       Dave found me far too intense, too needy – emotionally
       greedy would be more accurate – and felt like he needed some 
      air. I was just impossible to be around for any length of time.

      Some questions to consider

      Q: What enables some people who have been given a chronic
      or terminal diagnosis to enjoy a quality of life, while others 
      Q: When do people who say “I have everything I want” 
       experience a lack of fulfilment?
      Q: Why do some lottery winners increase their happiness withpage25image14744page24image15464
      their winnings, while others claim: “The lottery ruined my
      Q: How do some people find the ability to pick themselves up
      after a major knock back, while others do not, or find it 

The answers are in the book:

Are you Chasing Rainbows? - a personal and practical insight to emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children 

Paperback, e-book and audio book published on Monday, October 14th, 2013.