1. ·

    I think you're discussing two issues. First is how our society views mental illness. People who are overweight or have a specific health issue are viewed as victims needing sympathy, compassion and support. Mental health is treated with a high amount of suspicion because it's not often outwardly visible. Assuming the sufferer is even aware of the ailment, the next hurdle is to find someone he or she feels safe enough talking to about it. With the stima associated with that, it's hard.

    With that as a backdrop, I think a lot of people do turn to virtual communities for help. They are a place to connect on the individual's terms in a semi-anonymous and non-threatening way. They can share as much or as little as they want, and they know they are surrounded by a community of people with similar issues.

    That's all at the personal level, though. Taking a step back to the macro view, I agree completely that the online environment closely mirrors the real life one with its stigmas and judgmental criticism. You might be interested in this post by my friend Tim Tripcony: http://www.timtripcony.com/blog.nsf/d6plinks/TT…. The comments are mostly in reverse order, but some are out of order for some reason.


  2. ·

    It would be interesting to see if you could come up with something like #Twit2Fit when people did things to improve their mental health. #Twit2Fit is easier to get your arms around because there's a ton of knowledge, awareness, and acceptance about physical health. For the majority of folks, physical health and weight loss comes down to diet and exercise.

    Mental health problems, though, can be closer to weight gain problems that aren't so easily cured. In fact, there's an amazing similarity, when you think about it. Some mental health problems and weight gain problems are about thoughts and attitudes and can be worked on through changing attitudes and behaviors. But then there's the group of mental problems and weight problems that are due to problems of biology or physiology and they are not so easily fixed without medication and/or surgery.

    I'm not saying that it needs to be this way and that maybe it is possible to make improvements by changing the conversation from “how crazy I feel” to “how sane I feel”, to put it in stark terms. I just think it's going to take a new vocabulary, new thinking, etc.

  3. KatFrench

    Cool post. I particularly liked his comment on how cognitive behavioral therapy means many people with mental illness actually make more rational decisions than “mentally healthy” people, because they have a better understanding of how their own mental processes work. I completely agree with that.

  4. KatFrench

    Mark – I think a lot of the positively-framed conversation about mental health is, to a certain degree, “cloaked.” People talking about balance, stress, energy levels, attitude, etc. are often really talking about the present state of their mental health–they just aren't spelling it out that they're doing so. I also like your parallels between weight problems and mental health issues and agree that there's a wide spectrum in both.


  5. ·

    I love this idea: “What if we charted our progress in mental and emotional wellness the same way some people chart physical wellness goals and progress?”

    Part of the problem, of course, is that it’s difficult to qualify and quantify our emotional and mental health. We can keep track of weight loss & calories, or how many miles we walked/ran, but what’s the scale for feeling good about ourselves and life? And then how do we analyze the results? When I’m down, it might be the weather or hormones, it might be that there’s a rift in an important relationship, or some burden weighing on me. Sometimes I can do something about it, other times I can’t (and many times I have no idea why I’m feeling so low).

    We can, however, talk more openly about where we’re at, and what we’re doing about it. I can say “I recognize my need for some sunshine,” or maybe “I haven’t had any physical exercise all week, and I know that affects my mood.” Last week I shared on Twitter how I had a great talk with my daughter’s teacher, and what great medicine that was. Sharing these things at least moves the dialogue in the direction you’re talking about, I think.
    .-= Kristin T. (@kt_writes)´s last blog ..Talking to my kids about death =-.

  6. Kat

    Interesting. I like the idea of recognizing what you need, and whether you’re consistently meeting those needs.

    I think that, just like with physical health, there are the things we can count (days when we got adequate exercise, or did another therapeutic activity), and the things that count (improved mood, a conflict better managed, etc.)

    It’s still inputs and outcomes, I think.


  7. ·

    mental health is more important than body health yet most people just ignores it.~,-


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