Mental health challenges as we speak of today, are modeled based on original conditions that mental health care was created for. An extreme form of schizophrenia is one such example. The underlying essence is that mental health conditions are a problem of the brain and mind of the individual. Since the root causes (many times from childhood trauma) are too far away, it made sense to focus on the current repercussions of the condition and to solve for them, even if temporarily. But, of late, as we start medicalizing mental health challenges, this individualistic approach has gotten ridiculous. A critical part of mental health challenges today is triggered because the individual conflicts with the system (government, organizations, etc.) and to throw it on the individual to solve for themselves is cruel. Another bias here is that many of the evidence-based therapies including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are focused on changing “faulty thinking” on the part of individuals. This does not work for those who have been wronged by the system, those struggling with moral injuries, those who face trauma due to extreme life circumstances. Social Psychologist Michael Ungar stresses the importance of focusing on the structural challenges to resilience. We all rely on psychological pillars provided by society for our effective functioning. When these pillars get damaged, we need to focus on rebuilding them — not focus on the individual who rests on the pillars! I personally have experienced when my own pillar of support got removed and it’s like groping in the dark for many of us who go through this. We need more emphasis on this aspect of “psychological support”. Resilience is a trait — like a ball bouncing back. Forcing the individual to be resilient is very mal-intuitive. The very intent causes the individual to struggle. One alternative approach to the concept of resilience is questioning the assumption that it’s an individual phenomenon. Is it possible that resilience manifests when we share it with others? Can resilience reside in our shared minds as well? Can it be like that extra intelligence we acquire when we put our minds together? If such is the case, our whole resilience training programs will change focusing on community-reinforced resilience training than the individual-blaming system we have in mental healthcare today.
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