Thursday, 14 June 2012

Mental health debate OK: but what exactly is wellbeing?

The mental health debate took place in the UK Parliament this afternoon and Twitter was ablaze with positive comments when MP's shared their personal experiences of mental illness. There was also a call for emphasis on wellbeing.

The buzzword 'wellbeing' is a nominalization: it means different things to different people. As such it needs unpacking, especially since the NHS is now promoting 'five steps to mental wellbeing' alongside the ‘5-a-day’ campaign to get us to eat more fruit and veg.

It's all to easy for politicians and others to hide behind such feel-good phrases, which can trick us into thinking that what we need to achieve mental health has been properly defined and that practical applications can arise from this knowledge. It’s also easy to cry out “there is a lack of understanding about mental health.” But what is the understanding that’s needed?

In essence it is this: people who get their innate emotional needs met in the world cannot have mental health problems of any sort. 

This is the basis of the human givens approach to mental health which, when adopted is proving more effective than any other at helping emotionally distressed people.

We have written extensively about the emotional needs that have to be met in balance fairly well in a person to ensure they flourish and the three factors that prevent people from getting their needs met.

This knowledge about mental health needs to be taken up just as people took on the need for hygiene when looking after our physical health.

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