We have been taught to think of mental health as an entitlement: something the health care system can give you. That would be nice, but it’s just not realistic. Mental health is a skill that must be learned.
No one is born with these skills. They are only learned with great effort. If you didn’t learn yesterday, you can learn today. But you don’t even try to learn internal skills if you expect to get mental health from externals.
External theories of mental health are so popular that it’s hard to focus on internal skill-building. Here’s why externals don’t work. Here’s why you should focus on building your internal skills and ignore all those appeals to external sources of mental health. (See also: Personal Responsibility and Mental Health)
The Blame-Society Mindset
Mental health problems seemed to skyrocket when we started believing that we are not responsible for our own brains. Children’s mental health seemed to fall when we started thinking children are not responsible for managing their brains. What is going on?
Psychology has been taken over by the blame-society mindset. Whether you take one psychology class or a PhD, you are taught that “our society is the problem.” You must embrace the blame-society mindset to get credentialed in the “helping professions.” As a result, “getting help” means getting the blame-society mindset.
Today, one quarter of students entering college are being medicated for a mental health diagnosis. Where will this lead? How can people function a society that says you are not responsible for managing your actions, your choices, and thus your brain?
They tell us there’s a “mental health crisis.” They say a huge percentage of us have a “disorder.” They just want to help.
Few people question the disease view of mental health. If you question it, you are ridiculed or attacked. Your career is ruined if you are in a “helping profession.”
These people have good intentions, but no human is objective. That’s why democracy exists. That’s why the two-party system exists. Your view of mental health matters.
If you think personal responsibility is essential to mental health, speak up. Raise the topic with others. Tell me how it goes. (Click contact above.) Let’s work together to change this unhealthy mindset. It’s not easy to manage this brain we’ve inherited, but we can take off the victim goggles and see life’s beauty.
Is there an alternative?
Yes. We can embrace the view that mental health is a skill to be learned. We can reject the idea that mental health comes effortlessly to everyone except. those with a “disorder” or a mental illness. Mental health does not come effortlessly. It must be learned and practiced continually.
Our brains are not connected at birth. They connect from experience. Positive experiences teach our brain which behaviors to repeat. Negative experiences teach our brain which behaviors to avoid. Each brain is wired by its own early experiences. No one ends up with perfect wiring, but in adulthood we can learn the skill of re-building our wiring. It’s hard. But it’s the challenge that comes with the gift of life.
It’s nice to have help with this challenge. But help doesn’t help if it teaches you to blame your emotions on “our society.” That kind of help doesn’t help the person who is struggling, or the person paying the bills, or the community at large. It only helps those intent on condemning “our society.”
If you object to this kind of “help,” spread the word. Lead others by building your power over your own brain, and teaching others about their brain power.
The Inner Mammal Institute can help. Our books, videos, blogs, podcasts and graphics will help you understand your mammalian operating system and build your power over it. All of the resources are free except the books, which are inexpensive. Here are some great resources to start with:
Slide shows on Rewiring Your Brain with cute animal pix
Podcasts, videos, and blogs on making peace with your inner mammal.
Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain your brain to boost your serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin levels
Mental Health: Skill or Scam flyer (download pdf)