The public has lost faith in the mental health system. People have come to fear psychiatry and medications as oppressors of society. Mental disorders are viewed as incurable diseases. The statistics surrounding the field are anything but reassuring. 8.3 million Americans are living with mental health issues (1), and an estimated 3.5 million of them go untreated (2). People are dying every day from causes rooted in mental health issues. The crisis of our society’s crumbling mental wellness is at an all time high.

With all of our modern advances in research, education, and technology, why are people still not getting better?

The problem is that we are still operating in an outdated system that only superficially treats mental health disorders. When people go to a psychiatrist because they are experiencing depression and mood swings, they typically get a medication that’s supposed to help them feel better and manage their “incurable” illness. And although the medication will generally help with the superficial symptoms of their disorders, alone this is not enough. While one set of symptoms is masked, another rises, and patients are left struggling to make their lives work. Today’s mental health system only offers partial, incomplete solutions.

Mental Health Today

With the way that psychiatry is currently designed, psychiatrists don’t always look at the root cause of the problem that’s creating the effect of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, etc. They diagnose a person with depression, then treat that depression, often with medications.

However, this is only a superficial treatment plan. What people need to truly heal is a whole treatment plan developed around the root cause. We need to go deeper into the patient’s life history and look for the source of their depression. From my personal experience, the overwhelming majority of cases originate in trauma. Doctors need to screen for trauma with every single patient, but are not currently doing so. Why is that?

Unfortunately, there is a lack of education for providers on the true underlying cause of most mental health issues: humanity’s innate reactivity.

Reactivity is the uncontrolled physical, emotional, and mental responses to input that lead to nervous system instability. (Trauma, an example of reactivity, is the result of any event that has created a nervous system reaction resulting in emotional dysregulation and an unquiet, distressed mind.) The root of the problem is hardwired into our physiology. We are naturally reactive due to our survival instincts and our fight or flight response. The problem is even more serious if one has had any challenging childhood circumstances or trauma, which result in commonly seen issues such as depression, anxiety, mood instability, and addiction.

There is also a lack of education on how to use mental health issues to heal and uplift people to realize their life’s potential. The truth is that mental health issues are an opportunity for personal growth, and with the support of an educated and enlightened provider, can be a vehicle for the evolution of consciousness.

We psychiatrists and other providers are in a privileged position of receiving patients when they are at a juncture in their lives, often at a point of deep suffering. From this position, we need to uplift our patients into health and happiness — not medicate them into subdued zombies, which is the public perception of our work.

The mental health care system is outdated because society and the pressures of 21st century life are changing so rapidly that the gap between people’s needs and medicine’s ability to address those needs has widened more rapidly than we’ve been able to bridge. With so much ground to cover, our field has been achingly slow to catch up.

So what’s the solution?

Bridging the Alternative with the Mainstream

By giving providers the proper training and education, we can reinvent and update the mental health system for the 21st century. Providers need to be educated on simple yet profound integrative lifestyle practices that uplift brain chemistry naturally, and teach these to their patients. I myself am a strong advocate for using medication as a starting point to stabilize imbalanced brain chemistry, but I will also be the first to tell you that lasting stability and happiness are attained through the practice of a healthy daily lifestyle — not taking a daily pill.

The integrative, alternative healing world already offers a variety of methods to uplift brain chemistry naturally, but the mainstream world often disregards or even scorns the value of these techniques. Again, we see the chasm between science and practice. But although science is slow to reveal the effectiveness of these alternative practices, providers on the front lines of care need to stay on the cutting edge of medicine in order to best serve our patients.

By making “alternative” practices mainstream, we can heal and raise people to their full potential. Many of these practices come back to teaching Presence, which anyone can learn, but very few are taught. (Click here to read more on why Presence is the greatest healer).

When all members of our society have access to modern methods to overcome reactivity, heal, and realize their full potential, we can collectively shift into a new, elevated consciousness informed by collaboration and unity, as opposed to harm and separation. We will be a society built on mental wellness, and we will thrive.

Re-Inventing Mental Health

With all this said, we come to the conclusion that it is time to re-invent the field of mental health.

How do we do this?

The first step is to educate the public and providers that reactivity is the problem. Reactivity is behind our damaging habits and patterns. Reactivity is what makes life unbearable for so many and drives people into mental dis-ease. Reactivity is what is holding us back from learning and growing into our higher potential.

However, there is a solution. Anyone can learn how to get out of reactivity and into healthy responsiveness (i.e. Presence). This needs to be made evident to all providers, so that all providers can then share this with their patients.

The next step is to introduce alternative, integrative approaches and lifestyle techniques into the mainstream. We need to re-invent the current medical and mental health systems so that it is common practice to teach everyone these previously “fringe” techniques that actually hold the power to clearing the obstacles to mental wellness. Through changing the existing systems, we can upgrade them into vehicles for social change and the upliftment of our society. Everyone needs access to the tools that can lead them out of reactivity and into naturally sustained health and happiness. (Eventually, we can even introduce these tools into the public education system.)

The power is in our hands. Providers drive the medical field into new directions. Just take this story of a doctor who ended up saving thousands of lives by challenging the status quo: Dr. Heimlich’s life-saving maneuver was in complete opposition to the American Red Cross’ earlier recommendation of slapping a choking individual on the back to dislodge food. However, as time would prove, the unconventional Heimlich maneuver ended up saving more lives than the actually dangerous practice of back-slapping (3).

Today the Heimlich is common practice. A large part of its power rests in the fact that anyone can use it — it’s an equal opportunity treatment, available to anyone who has been educated in its use.

The way things are now, it’s as if we’re just slapping people on the back, doing what we think is the right thing to help them, but inadvertently lodging the problem more deeply inside. They’re left wondering why they’re still choking and feeling unwell after we tell them they should be all better. Many patients live such a reduced quality of life, it’s as if they are experiencing a slow death. Of course they’re unhappy.

It’s time to take a radically different approach. We can clear the blocks of reactivity with public awareness and education on lifestyle practices that are currently only being shared in the integrative alternative world. Let’s bring these solutions to light in the mainstream. When these tools become common knowledge, we will bring people out of suffering into their true, free, healthy selves.

I am here to bridge the gap between people’s needs, and the mental health system’s ability to meet them. I invite you to join me on this journey.


Providers: If you are interested in collaborating me with on the movement to re-envision mental health, please message me on LinkedIn.

Others: If you are interested in supporting me in the movement to re-envision mental health, please show your support by following me on my social media platforms and voicing your support or areas that you would like to see addressed. I can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.


Sources

1. Brooks, M. (April 18, 2017). Record Number of Americans Suffer Serious Mental Distress. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/878771

2. (January 28, 2017). 50% of Mentally Ill Untreated. Retrieved from https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/consequences/percentage-mentally-ill-untreated.html

3. Tenner, E. (2003). Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity. New York: Vintage Books.

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