The first step would be to change the ‘mental health’ phrase as above, which is what it refers to – or should. Mental health is out-dated as a phrase and relates to the less well known problems that used be around from around Freud and before.
There are ‘sustained mental health’ (1) problems that are managed and monitored such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities etc. These are things that will be unlikely to change or definitely won’t.
Mental health phrase is used, though, to also cover temporary states such as depression, anxiety, stress, OCD and PTSD – although various forms and levels of ‘disorder’ (another word I dislike in this context) means that everyone is lumped together under ‘problems’!
Illness is something else I prefer not to use, especially in the case of temporary states of mind with causes outside of genes and chemical imbalances, or damaged bodies through illness or accident or from birth.
I struggled to understand this difference and treatment, assessment and consideration whilst training and have developed for myself my own perspective and references to these diverse problems that come up in my field.
Personally (professionally) I don’t work with the ‘sustained’ psychological problem areas in the main, although I do feel comfortable to work with them in some ways indirectly or live with them as part of life.
I work with people within the ‘temporary’ problem areas – things that can be helped and supported with counselling or coaching, or both, or related relationships.
Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, OCD, eating disorders, body dismorphia, bipolar or manic depression in some cases, results of abuse with self-esteem, trust, behaviour and security in the self – confidence, resilience, awareness and understanding of the self.
I am a Counsellor – I am not a Psychiatrist, Psychologist or doctor. I talk to people about their concerns, their issues, and help them try to find answers and options that they can use to dispel or at least manage their problem areas in their lives.
That’s what I like. I don’t ‘fix them’. They don’t even ‘fix’ themselves. They don’t need ‘fixing’ because they are not ‘broken’. They are struggling people, with things on their mind that interfere with their lives and the lives of those around them.
On the other hand, the ‘sustained’ or ongoing Psychological difficulties mentioned above (1) can also be managed so they interfere less with everyday lives.
The illness label especially for depression is based around the ‘medical model’, something else I am less involved with in my capacity as a counsellor and life coach. This model is based on chemical imbalances in the body, mistakes in genetics, damage after birth, and things I can’t really change nor potentially manage through talking and understanding by both myself and the client.
However, the medical model also relates in many minds to medication – pills, bottles, care in hospital, doctors and nurses, fixing up broken bits and sometimes – never recovering!
I work with a recovery model in counselling and coaching (note here that coaching is more developmental than counselling is recovery of well-being of the mind)
My model is more positive, open minded and proactive – action oriented and change oriented. Medically, they manage or fix broken bits of the body including the mind.
Depression is not an illness to be managed with meds. It is a response by our minds to protect our well-being from harm and harmful behaviours. We are not broken and unfixable, we are just defensive! It’s normal. At least for our bodies if not our minds to accept this as normal.
Normal – the social norms, expectations, requirements and conforming to certain criteria (which change with time and place!)
Clients I have worked with successfully (they are all successful …to a greater or lesser degree!) know that this is important to me, this differentiation between the labels of Psychological well-being and mental health.
I believe that with a shift of labelling we will get a shift of mind, and understanding. Because we look for something different with a new perspective, we will find more of what we need to know…
I could go on but for now, I won’t! I will leave this there.