Friday, 12 June 2015

Mental health in the news

2 main stories in the news this morning highlight the huge differences in the way mental health is treated compared to physical health in the Western Medical model.
The first concerns the German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who deliberately crashed a plane with 150 people on board. He apparently saw over 40 doctors in the two years leading to the crash, with clearly no-one able to help him. It is a sad testament to medicine that we fail someone who so clearly was crying out for help. We may have saved so many lives if he had been...

The second story is about how the NHS treats  mental health with the story that  A&E staff are failing to treat and condemning people who harm themselves. I can understand this as in the past I would have been the same. But after training in trauma therapy extensively I now recognise the drivers of cutting and self-harming acts - and why people are driven to do them. They are calming for people whose nervous systems are so geared to threat that cutting actually down-regulates (reduces) that threat by changing the hormone system balance. Most 'normal' people find that hard to understand (though we regularly engage in similar but less violent acts of numbing like shopping, drinking, TV watching, perfectionism and over-work). It just seems that our ignorance is costing lives as when the people who should know about this i.e professional health care workers, do not and treat people as time-wasters and malingerers.

Mental health is woefully underfunded and ignored. Where provision is provided it is patchy and far too often relies on inadequate pseudo-diagnostic criteria like ADHD and now a whole raft of new disorders based on certain displayed character traits (see the latest psychiatrists' manual the DSM-V for the full horror of these unproven, poorly researched 'diseases'). These categories tell us nothing about what is going on for the person with these symptoms - they are based on a system that rewards a diagnosis with insurance payout. They have nothing to do with what is really behind themMost of the problems we see in Western society are a result of spiritual disconnection, nutritional depletion and a poor understanding of how memory and trauma are encoded and treated.

As I meet more and more ordinary people who exhibit signs of mental distress - and these are the functioning ones, I begin to see this is the tip of the iceberg. We are so far from living health, joyful lives and our culture encourages disconnection via envy, money grabbing, celebrity culture, etc. We need to recognise we all need love and connection, and that includes self-love as well as that from others. We need to be recognised above all, for who we are as individuals and have loving, supporting relationships. This cannot be prescribed unfortunately, but when someone falls out of their ability to cope as many do, they need a caring and understanding health service that offers more than crisis support. The model of trauma resolution that I use allows people to recognise that their symptoms are a desperate attempt by the mindbody to keep them safe, even though it has become untenable in their adult lives it needs to be acknowledges where they have been, and how strong they are to have survived. We need to promote understanding of the inherent goodness and healing ability of people, not treat them as abhorrent weaklings whose problems need to be dismissed, medicated and covered up. There are answers out there, there are amazing new treatments not yet available on the NHS but they all require a totally new approach to health and healing which is self-acknowledging and driven. I look forward to the day when suffering such as this is a thing of the past.