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5 Principles of Mental Well-Being
A Primer for Protecting Young people from Indoctrination into the Mental Health Cult
Traditional advice on “taking care of your mental health” has fueled a narcissistic self-obsession, misrepresenting emotional distress, unpleasant thoughts and normal developmental challenges as a mental illness in need of diagnosis, therapy, and medication. Psychotherapy, a product of modern Western societies attempt to overcome emotional suffering and promote self growth, is innacurately portrayed as the ultimate solution for mental health problems.
As a clinical psychologist, I understand the importance of behavioral and psychological interventions when necessary. Psychotherapy can be valuable for some people at the right time. An esteemed professor once told me to "become an expert in coping," recognizing that ineffective coping strategies can lead to severe impairment. However, we often overlook the fact that entering the current mental health system itself might be an ineffective coping strategy.
An abundance of mental health professional training now mirrors our allopathic sick care model. It labels thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as indicative of illness, aiming to mold them into an accepted norm. Yet, many are unaware of the pseudoscience underlying this view. We are driving more and more young people to view their own internal experiences as broken and requiring a toxic pharmaceutical to change who they are. Many are adopting a mental illness diagnosis as an identity marker.
Popular culture and standard mental health “treatment” appears to deliberately ignores centuries of wisdom and valuable evidence on mental well-being, perpetuating a system that has left generations feeling physically and mentally unwell. Despite the increasing number of people seeking mental health treatment (therapy + drugs), people's conditions seem to be worsening rather than improving. To me this is not a surprise.
I am most concerned about the intrusion of public schools into the role of mental health gatekeepers. Schools are primary referrals for ADHD, are hyper- vigilant to pathologizing normal developmental behaviors and push dangerous trends around psychiatric diagnoses, their version of mental health, disability culture & other fringe ideology. They routinely overstep their areas of expertise and are bombarded with new trends that can reflect a dangerous social engineering. The are most vulnerable to internalizing this dumbed down view of human behavior & their increasing involvement into areas outside their knowledge base is more fear driven than practical.
Mental health is a huge business right now with venture capitalist firms investing billions into the market to address the burgeoning mental health crisis. These programs and technologies will no doubt create more customers- which is the point. Taking care of your mental health might actually promote attention and focus on experiences that paradoxically may make your kids more anxious and miserable.
I've identified 5 principles to inoculate young people from this indoctrination into the mental health system. What may seem like sound advice, and even common sense, is now somewhat revolutionary in todays culture.
Normalize Life Challenges
Life's challenges are inevitable, and it's vital we normalize these experiences rather than over-reacting. Rather than branding their feelings as abnormal, let's portray them as part of life and emphasize problem-solving. “Taking care of our mental health” has become a code for seeking professional help. Make sure you protect your child against pathologizing normal reactions and life challenges.
Turning to a mental health professional, who often merely listens and validates emotions, can inadvertently immerse your child in distress rather than empowering them to strategize effective responses. Regrettably, there's a lack of assurance that these professionals won't misinterpret emotional pain as a mental illness and advocate for psychiatric drugs. This label can be damaging, shaping your child's identity as someone who is disordered. It's important to note that many individuals in the mental health system initially faced normal developmental challenges, highlighting the need for cautious and discerning approaches to treatment.
Where Your Attention Goes Your Energy Flows
Excessive use of social media and screen time has been strongly linked to mental health issues. A fulfilling life is one that engages outwardly with the world. It's crucial to ensure your children are actively involved in meaningful pursuits that divert their attention from trivial matters. Encourage them to avoid self-absorbed tendencies like creating a social media persona at age 13, and instead, immerse them in sports, the arts, community engagement, volunteering, church activities, and nature connection – all vital components of mental well-being. Prioritize real-world experiences over excessive introspection. Encourage academic excellence, cultivate a reading habit, and cherish quality moments spent with your kids. Early support for imaginative play lays the foundation for a balanced and contented life. Remember, excessive self-focus often breeds unhappiness; real joy stems from a life fully lived beyond oneself.
Focusing too much on YOU… drives misery.
While professional help can be valuable for the right person at the right time…there is a concerning trend of medicalizing normal experiences. We must protect young people from this ideology.
You Can Handle This: Build Distress Tolerance Skills
Since we acknowledge the inherent challenges of life, it's wise to focus on cultivating resilience. Encourage your children to push beyond their perceived limits, challenging both their physical and mental boundaries. This entails confronting fears, adopting fresh viewpoints, and understanding that adversities can mold character and virtues. Embrace the concept of pushing them to tackle difficulties head-on. When they encounter problems with teachers, coaches, or friends, resist the urge to immediately intervene and solve the issues for them. Instead, let them build the crucial skill of enduring discomfort. When they are in college they won’t break down when someone disagrees with them and they won’t be easily offended, requiring a safe space or a trigger warning.
Identify Purpose and Meaning Beyond Yourself
Finding purpose and meaning beyond oneself can act as a powerful shield against mental health problems. When we identify a higher calling or a sense of meaning in our lives, it provides us with a solid foundation to navigate through challenges and setbacks. This connection to something greater instills a sense of direction and fulfillment, reducing the risk of feeling lost or overwhelmed by personal struggles.
Engaging in activities that contribute to the well-being of others or the community fosters a sense of belonging and purpose, promoting mental resilience and emotional stability. As we invest our time and energy into meaningful pursuits, we are less likely to get caught up in self-destructive thought patterns, and our focus shifts towards creating positive impact and lasting legacies.
As parents, it is crucial for us to lead by example and demonstrate the significance of looking beyond trivial matters to our children. When we observe them getting fixated on minor issues, it becomes our responsibility to refocus their attention on the bigger picture. By doing so, we can help them understand the importance of not getting bogged down by insignificant concerns and instead, encourage them to pursue meaningful endeavors that contribute to their personal growth and the well-being of others.
Everything is Temporary
The concept of impermanence holds great power. During moments of joy and success, it is essential to fully embrace the experience, savoring every second. Conversely, in times of pain and difficulty, acknowledging the temporariness of the situation brings solace, knowing that it shall pass. Life, in its entirety, is an adventurous journey, not defined by any single moment or period. By instilling this understanding in our children, we protect them from feelings of hopelessness during challenging times. When addressing mental health, we should focus on building resilience, fostering a mindset of continuous learning, growth, and adaptability in the face of adversity. Embracing impermanence equips them to navigate life's ups and downs with strength and optimism.
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