Today is World Mental Health Day 2011.
It is a great day to remember that we live in what I like to call the salt water taffy generation.
It is quite possibly the most difficult generation to inhabit, at least for those of us in the mental health field, because we are caught right in the middle between where we’re coming from and where we’re going.
What I mean by this is that we are coming from a past that treated mental
health patients with about as much gentleness as a wrecking ball treats a condemned building.
Where we are headed is what I often term “the age of enlightenment”, when conversation about our mental health issues becomes as open, accepting and even casual as our discussions of physical health ailments such as cancer, the flu, or even the common cold.
Where we are now is right in the middle, being pulled and yanked by both our past and our future, stretched and reconfigured to create out of what hasn’t worked a new way that truly will.
What this means is that we should each and all be encouraged. We are making a lot of progress! We know so much more now – understand so much more now – want so much more for ourselves and those loved ones who are affected than we ever dared to dream of before.
But we still have a long way to go too.
Just like in any other area of our lives, progress in understanding our brains (the arena within which all so-named “mental” health issues play out) is slow….but it is also steady.
We are beginning to crack enough of the brain’s little codes to stop feeling stonewalled by our own fear of the unknown in our own heads and start getting really curious about what other interesting things we might stumble across if we persevere.
We are starting to understand that, just as in the physical health arena, within the arena of brain health, there is no such standard as “normal”. There may be a bell curve, and we may be able to assemble some helpful percentages about how many of us may expect to suffer from this or that or something else, but there is no litmus test to say who will get what, when, and for how long or how severely.
But our brains are equally as much uniquely our own, wired with an unrepeatable combination of our DNA and the societal influences we are exposed to.
So for this 2011 World Mental Health Day, we can deserve to celebrate the significant progress we are making, certain breakthrough victories we have already achieved, and the incredible investment being made on our behalf by the researchers and scientists who have dedicated their careers and lives to bringing forth new understandings about how brain and body function interact to create situations where optimal health in every area of our lives becomes a very real possibility for all.
Today’s Takeaway: Where can you celebrate yourself for your own contributions to the advancement of understanding, compassion, and support for those who suffer from mental illness?