Framing mental health differently

You know, per my previous post, I want to like these graphics, made for mental health awareness month, but they rub me a bit the wrong way, I think because of the disorder / illness / suffering framing.

I think this is something of an issue with medicine generally, and comes in part from how it’s (abysmally) funded in the U.S., so that things need to be defined as ‘abnormal / disorder / illness’ in order to be covered by health insurance. (See also the essay I wrote about ‘normal’ breasts and my difficult conversations with well-meaning doctors during cancer treatment re: reconstruction. It’s all of a piece.)

You can’t work on these things with a professional unless you’ve convinced someone within the financial structures that you are sufficiently far from the norm that it constitutes a serious disorder. And that just feels like exactly the wrong approach.

Obviously, there are serious mental health disorders. I don’t mean to minimze that.

But if you’re seeing 30-50% of the population in a certain place, then you just have to accept that that’s part of the normal human condition, and that there should be normal, non-stigmatized structural approaches to addressing this regularly, constantly, as needed, with everyone.

I don’t know what would look like, exactly. But I was thinking this morning about how ‘solar punk’ is evolving as a sub-genre talking about future visions of climate health in a positive manner (rather than just having us write miserable dystopias), offering strategies and possibilities for a more climate-stable world (universe).

I’d love to see people writing science fiction that was… ‘healthpunk’? I dunno, that sounds goofy.

But stories where oh, you’re at the water cooler in the office, and someone says, “Oh, hey, I won’t be at the meeting this afternoon, because my therapist rescheduled our weekly meeting,” and everyone else was like, “No problem, Bob, and hey, how’s that anxiety doing these days? Sally in Purchasing says that the company-reimbursed yoga retreat was super helpful to her.” And none of this is the point of the story, it’s just in the background and totally normalized. (Also, written better so it’s funny and charming and sweet!)

We shouldn’t have to be pushed to the point of crisis before we get better support for our daily lives.

We should start imagining a better way.

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