“It takes a village to raise a child” African Proverbvillage photo

How do you identify yourself? What do you connect with that is greater than you? Is it your country, religion, state, town, college, or some other group or organization? By being part of a something bigger than ourselves helps our mental health. But the connection should go far beyond mental the bonds should be real and tangible. 

I am a great admirer of the indigenous peoples of the United States. They had a society without poverty and homelessness while at the same time having very little crime and warfare. This was accomplished without the existence of prisons or psychiatric hospitals. What was the key to their success? I believe that their harmony in living was primarily from their deep spirituality and their strong cultural bonds.

The Native Americans in a sense thought of themselves as one large family. As a person who severely suffered from mental illness I was at a time in great need. I could not work to support myself. Fortunately my parents provided me with the food and shelter that I needed. I received medical care in the form of hospitalization, medicine, seeing a psychiatrist and attending a mental health center. Unfortunately these things weren’t free but rather they came at a financial cost.

It is true that some of my peers that suffered from mental illness were supported with government aid. Still I will make a bold statement that in general society fails the mentally ill as it does with many other elements of our society, especially those in greatest need.

As a person who suffers from mental illness I was entirely isolated from the community. I attended a mental health center which was exclusively used by people with psychiatric problems. Also senior citizens were put in nursing homes and children in schools. I believe the isolation of groups from the whole is very destructive to the well being of our collective mental health.

Our elderly are perhaps the wisest people in our society yet they are dumped into a nursing home. Instead of getting the honor due to their years, in many cases they are simply ignored or at best have a limited role in society. This isolation should not be. For the betterment of all we need to break down the walls that divide us.

The problem with the United States is that our capitalistic system promotes the idea of looking out for number one. This is just selfishness. You can called it ‘rugged individualism’ if you like it doesn’t change the reality of the truth. In the United States good health care isn’t even a right rather it is a privilege.  Universal health care would be a great start in improving our society but it shouldn’t end there.

We have to develop a community where we care about one another to the point that we are willing to give of ourselves in a meaningful and tangible way. That would mean the more prosperous would give of their means to aid those more unfortunate. I am all for socialism if it is implemented in a democratic way.

Why can’t our children spend some of their school time in the presence of our senior citizens? Why when I was in the mental health center didn’t anybody ever come and simply pay a visit to encourage us? I am advocating a kinder, gentler world.

I am telling you that the greed of America will be the destruction of this country. Our greed is predicated upon violence. Already we see the unraveling of the fabric of our society as mass shootings and murders are becoming more and more frequent. The answer to this problem of ‘violence’ is not a complicated one. Rather it is simple, we must come together as a people to support one another.

We are all one tragedy away from disaster.If you had a stroke and couldn’t work anymore what would happen to you? In today’s world you would be in trouble. In a better world, where we were intimately connected your back would be covered.

Photos by newagecrap,


John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2017). Community. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 15, 2018, from


Last updated: 23 Nov 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Nov 2017
Published on All rights reserved.