Mental Health… So what’s in a label?

Among the countless things I don’t know is one thing I’ve learned FOR SURE… life is anything but black and white… neat and tidy! It comes instead, in a spectrum of shades… often overlapping according to facts and perspective. The issue of mental health falls perfectly into this conundrum. We seem to have a need to define everything and give it a name. It makes us feel safer… more in control regardless of how far from the truth that really is.

The professional field of mental health has historically been broken in many ways. A diagnosis can only be as accurate and effective as the tools used to assess any given situation along with the insight and training of the psychologist and or psychiatrist making that assessment. Until recently due to a lack of funding and priorities, the human brain has not been studied beyond a certain point. The tendency has always been to view the issue from only part of our human spectrum which is only a slice of the entire pie. The reality is we’re all made up of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies… each just as essential as the next and all connected and symbiotic.

Good therapists are worth their weight in gold but sadly those who aren’t seem to far outweigh them. This has been not my personal experience repeatedly but also mirrors the opinions of many friends and peers of mine in this field who have identified this as a real problem as well. Nobody in a healing profession can be effective unless they’re willing to also do their own personal work. People are often drawn to professions like these because of their own tough experiences and a sincere desire to help others. What they don’t yet understand however is we can’t help anyone else unless we’re willing to help ourselves first. When we know better… we do better. Knowledge gained through books and class-time is very different from wisdom. This is what we gain from going through the process ourselves. It shifts our perspectives and the way we deal with everything and everyone around us. Otherwise, it becomes just another way to avoid our “stuff” by focusing on someone or something else. That’s not empowering for either party!

Unfortunately, the propensity for life-long damage to someone who is incorrectly diagnosed or mishandled by the so-called “professional” they’ve sought help from can be heart-breaking. It certainly has been for me as I’ve listened to countless personal stories from clients and friends who have suffered the repercussions of being incorrectly diagnosed and labeled. They’ve all held the belief that they WERE their diagnosis… somehow less than everyone else… flawed… not worth having a joyful life or a healthy relationship. In every single case, they could not have been more wrong. NOBODY should go into the field of mental health unless they’re empathic and compassionate enough to see and understand the perspectives of those they are supposed to serve. The damage I’ve witnessed from ignorance on the part of the professional who should know better has left me many times with my mouth hanging open in amazement.

Learning to truly identify who we are at our authentic best requires letting go of the antiquated beliefs that keep us stuck, powerless and unable to see the bigger picture and truth of it. Becoming aware of the labels which hurt and shame so many and keep them hostage is something everyone of us can and should do. It also means having the courage to speak up when we hear or see someone doing something counter to that. At our cores, THAT is who we ALL are.

GET CURIOUS…. REMEMBER…

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