Could Nature Inspire a New Way to Think About Mental Health

Why is ‘mental health in the workplace’ a thing? It’s not like we morph into a different person when we turn up at work. “DON’T WE?” – ok, yes, I hear you. I know we put on our work costume so to speak, we step into a role and play our part, but we’re still Jack, or Jane or Jill. It’s not as if at home you’re perfectly fine, no issues, no worries, no anxiety or stress or depression, or despair, or frustration, or self-criticism and then you get to work and all those things just evaporate.  

I’d say for many going to work is an escape from ourselves, it provides a distraction, it gives us something to focus on, can give us a feeling of purpose and fulfilment. So why have we not got a campaign on ‘Mental Health at Home’?

In fact, why have we got a ‘Mental Health’ campaign at all?  I think a ‘Save us from Ourselves’ campaign might be more meaningful and more helpful. We’re breaking down on mass, in country after country.  Think about it – all over the globe, in vastly different countries, with different cultures, histories, economies, social structures, people are breaking.   10 years ago the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted that by 2020 mental health would be the biggest draw on resources globally. That future is now here, much like the climate crisis is now here. 

Do you think there might be some bigger issues at play than people just needing to ‘talk about their mental health’? And as an existential crisis, being obsessed with the notion that the problem is one of ‘mind’ which we can solve by talking, taking medication, and changing our thoughts worries me.

We’re finally waking up to the truth that we must live sustainably. That’s a recognition that we must respect the capacity of the ecosystems of Earth, there are limits to what the ecology can sustain. Well, at the same time the WHO was predicting this global mental health crisis I was writing about psychological sustainability and our psychecology – a word I coined to reflect how our integration with nature is essential to our well being and that we need to recognise and respect the capacity of our own psyches which need careful management just like the natural ecology does. Like the natural ecology, our psychecology has a tipping point and I think we’re at it.

So, I see the need for a radically better conversation, for radically better solutions. We do ourselves a huge disservice by not stepping beyond the way we’ve been doing it - mental health professionals, health service resources, drugs and thought therapy. At the moment this is all we have and so we are rushing to spend, spend, spend to expand, expand, expand the ‘medical’ solution.

 Framing the problem differently reveals different solutions. Nature stays balanced when its integrity, its wholeness is maintained. Same for our psyche – it serves us and keeps us feeling good and able to sustain challenges when it is in balance, which can only be genuinely found through recognising its wholeness. And like Nature, we have everything we need to heal, restore, and strengthen within us. 

Maria Suzanne Dennis

Working for psychological well being for people and our animal kin

Maria Suzanne

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