Magazine article New Internationalist

The Missing Piece of the Mental Health Puzzle

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Missing Piece of the Mental Health Puzzle

Article excerpt

As an undergraduate, I took psychology for two years. People who study the subject tend to be drawn to it because they are seeking to solve puzzles in their own mental makeup. I was no exception.

But I was also seeking another connection and answers to the question: what is my place in the world? That led to an informal dalliance with philosophy as well.

I didn't know it then, but the answers aren't readymade, and I am still working them out.

An answer I find particularly important is: in order to find my place in the world, I need to be of it. However much I love solitude, disconnection is a dead end.

This has been painfully brought home on the many occasions I have had to visit locked psychiatric wards. Whatever their faults - tedium seems more common now than the horrors recounted by survivors just a couple of decades ago - they can be places where some people in extreme mental distress find the time and space to make peace with themselves. Society at large seldom offers such a space.

The challenge of mental ill health is often seen only as an individual challenge; the social challenge to build inclusive, supportive communities is barely considered, perhaps because it appears too great a task. …

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