Inaugurated Mental Health Week at the Department of Psychology in SDM College, Ujjire, Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka on October 3, 2010. The gist of my nearly three hour long talk and interaction: The term Mental Health is a misnomer as it smacks of Medical Model applied to mental problems too which does not do justice to the malady. Mental Health or Mental Problems are not illness in the sense of manifestation of several symptoms having an underlying single cause like a virus or a microbes as in medical illness.Often, in mental problems, the manifestation itself the whole of the malady or a single expression may have multiple 'causes'. In fact all the so called mental illness is actually, as Thomas Szasz opines, problems in living which the modern trained psychiatrist in particular is ill equipped to handle, although a Psychiatric Social Worker or a Clinical Psychologist are better off but both are put below and under Psychiatric dispensation. We are in fact fooling the public by saying that we have understood mental illness and we have treatment for all of them, assuming wrongly that the medicines in Pharmacology and Elecro- treatment will solve problems in ones life! On the same token, hospital set up for the mentally ill is also unethical. Mental problems arises in the midst of ones people around in the family, in the organization, and the 'cure' for it too must be from the people who 'caused' it! This is the true spirit in the advent of Community mental Health Movement and its advocacy of training Community Agents in the society to recognize and remedy the mental problems in the social milieu itsental illness, prevention is not merely better than cure but is cure in itself. Therefore, Mental or Inner Peace may be a better term than Mental Health.However, for the convenience of the familiarity addicted we may still use the term mental Health for our purpose here!
An ability to love and work would be the sign of mental health and the mentally ill is having a feeling of misery and an inability to manage ones own affairs.There are people who are good at work, or turn out a donkey's work as it were but miserable with people as they can not get along with them and there are people who are always happy - we may wonder what they have to be happy about! - but work wise good for nothing. Both cannot be considered as mentally healthy.
Need deprivation, unfulfilled desires especially of the need for intimacy, love and affection, in addition to the need for recognition and self expression, is often considered as the stumbling block to achieve mental health/mental peace. Not having recognized and utilized all the inner potentialities/possibilities is yet another cause to loose our mental peace. Yet, fulfillment in both the above set of needs may contribute to ones ego, self possessiveness and self aggrandizement which alienates from people, that may not be called mental illness and yet, nevertheless, is as harmful to self and society in the long run as mental illness.
Dovetail ourselves to a larger reality, a reality that is beyond our construction through our body, mind and intellect, and from which we all have come, are nurtured and return to, will ensure lasting and stable mental peace and prosperity. It is to access the spiritual domain in us in addition to dwelling in the domain of matter that would alone usher us in to the wholeness of being and living that is good for both self and all others.