“Literally everybody is sitting in the middle of mental health. . . but they don’t know it.”~ Sydney Banks
Take a moment to reflect on your understanding of the term ‘mental health.’ What does it mean to you? How specific could you be, about what it actually is? How would you define it?
If, like me, you’re struggling a little, there’s a good reason for that. It’s because it’s invisible; a capacity, rather than an entity. Looking back at my training and practice as a ‘health’ professional, it seems to me that the vast majority—if not its entirety—was spent looking for the opposite: that more obvious notion of illness.
My focus these days is resolutely on health, even if it is a bit harder to pin down.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of mental health highlights that it must be more than just the absence of mental disorder or disability. They start by saying that “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities…” and that really made me sit up, because to realise something is to see that it’s already there. You don’t have to work at it, or add anything into the mix, in order to realise something. Removing misunderstanding is subtractive.
Here’s the deal: mental health is our birthright. We come into the world with it and it goes precisely nowhere. It is our capacity for psychological healing; our innate resilience.
Which may lead you to ask, Ok Giles, so why the crisis?
Put simply, we suffer mentally because we learn to do so. Programmed from childhood to buy in to the mental narrative that says we are not enough… that we do not have enough… that this is not enough… we fail to notice that by living inside these false, but oh-so-seductive stories we are innocently taking ourselves away from the only place we will ever actually experience mental health: the Now.
What starts as mere dis-quiet, if unchecked can escalate to dis-ease, and in today’s model of care, sadly, our experience will too easily be labelled as mental dis-order, when the reality is that any ramping up of symptoms is wisdom in action. Our feelings are always—and only—pointing us to our state of mind in this very moment: a barometer on how present we are to life and all its riches. Ignore these helpful messages and they will get louder.
We don’t have to be victims of thought. We can transcend our past, and our programming, simply by realising the ever-present nature of our mental health. When we shift our attention away from the content of our thinking—an endlessly creative tirade of abuse that serves only to obscure our wellbeing—and we realise, again and again, the fact that we are experiencing our thinking… our minds naturally clear and our mental health resurfaces, effortlessly.
I am hopeful for the future and you should be, too. Humanity’s long slumber is coming to an end and we are waking up to our true nature, as described beautifully by Jack Pransky, when he wrote, “All we are is peace, love and wisdom, and the power to create the illusion that we’re not.”
If you’re struggling to see your own mental health, then guiding people back to it, without judgement or pressure, is what I do. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07889254987 and we’ll take it from there.
Dr Giles P Croft
Healing • Coaching • Speaking