September 5, 2017

February is “Psychology Month” in Canada – we have just come off another month dedicated to raising public awareness of mental health issues for children.   The terms “psychology” and “mental health” carry with them a great deal of stigma, most people still prefer to avoid discussing their own mental well-being.   Think about it!   After all you have no problem telling your boss that “I can’t come into work today, I have the flu” but saying something like “I can’t come into work today because I am depressed” carries far more judgment.

When I went to university my major was in psychology and to this day I have maintained a keen interest in the subject.   Throughout my life, I don’t think I have ever known anyone who didn’t suffer from some form of psychological impediment (myself included) at some point or points in their lives.

Depression for example is one of the most common ailments – it affects most of the population to a lesser or greater degree at some point.   But how do you deal with it?   Some people put their head under their pillow and pray for the darkness to pass, others take pills to find relief while others cope with the challenges through family and peer support with understanding friends and relatives.

Emotional insecurity or instability is another very common problem – one that can be demonstrated easily just think about reactions to comments on social media, think about the pushiness of others standing in line for a coffee or the discourteous behaviour of other drivers.  All of these are signs that someone is not feeling happy or content.  Of course people aren’t always on top of their game – it is not only perfectly natural to have fluctuating moods but our moods also imbue us with personality characteristics.

Have you ever lost your temper and smashed something (hopefully not someone)?   Certainly you have, we all have, that is can be a sign of a mental health issue – in isolation as a one-off event it is just a part of “human-nature”.   But if it is a behaviour that repeats often enough that it impairs relationships there is most likely a problem.   But again, how do you address the problem, escape, confront, medicate or through social support?

We all have built in psychological control mechanisms, the ego, id and super ego, that work to help our minds maintain homeostases – some people go a little further than others, adding character, humour, interest and divergence to their personalities, but in the end there are limits of social acceptability that when crossed become offensive.

Should we view people with mental illness a being incurable?   Should we worry that they will become ill again? After all we don’t care how many times people get the flu – as long as it isn’t us.   Do we want to live in a society that promotes health happiness and understanding or one that ostracizes and punishes those who are struggling?

Although we not qualified to help with mental health issues beyond making an appropriate referral we ware positioned to help with the stress that comes from dealing with, at times, irrational collection agents, various legal actions and pacing the floor worrying how the bills are going to get paid.  All in all that is certainly something to think about during “Psychology Month”.