I believe we will look back at this period in history as the moment when we changed our relationship with mental health.
In the past few decades, we have come a long way with understanding physical health. In the next few decades, mental health will be one of the most important issues we face.
When we speak of mental health today, we may immediately think of mental illness. As we start to recognize that mental health is relevant to all of us and is broader than mental illness, we will start to develop a deeper understanding of how to support ourselves, our communities and our world.
In the past year, I have been active in the mental health ecosystem and have had the opportunity to connect with many leaders, which has helped me develop the following framework to redefine mental health.
Here are descriptions of each segment of the mental health spectrum:
These are serious health conditions that severely impact or hinder one’s quality of life and are diagnosed illnesses, such as bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorders, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
General emotional, psychological and social state that impacts how one may respond to the daily stressors in life, how one connects with others and how decisions are influenced and made.
The interest of peak performance states with a deliberate effort to enhance focus and concentration. Getting into flow state. The image of a professional athlete may come to surface as an example.
On the left side of the dotted line, we are generally reactive and on the right, proactive.
As a whole, the bell curve can represent population segments. As an individual, the bell curve can represent the different states we may feel throughout even a single day. Everyone of us is on this spectrum, regardless of gender, age, race, location, career, income, identity, religion or beliefs.
Care, investment and support across the spectrum can take many forms, including traditional health care systems, research to understand both prevention and cure, mindfulness techniques, therapy, cognitive training strategies, spiritual practices, medications, technology-based products and more that we have yet to discover and invent.
The vision is simple. To shift the bell curve to the right, reducing the number of people suffering from mental illness and the frequency that each of us experience symptoms of a mental illness in our day-to-day lifestyle. To do this, we have to shift the dotted line to the left, signifying a more proactive investment, both as a whole and as individuals, to caring for mental health.
This is a start of a conversation to help redefine mental health as a spectrum that we are all on and as such, are all invested in supporting.