As I consider the implications of Mental Health Awareness Month, I'm recalling the nature of sickness and illnesses and diseases of all kinds, and how open and courageous those folks with cancer are—how they are proud to endure, to have overcome, and even provide sage wisdom in times of great hardship, including death. But while cancer effects mental wellness in painful ways, the effect is somewhat predictable, and so it's not so hard to get on board with a cause we understand, to offer compassion, to see ourselves in each other's suffering.
Unpredictability, powerlessness, groundlessness, and confusion mark issues of mental health in ways that are painful to contemplate, let alone live every day. Tremendous nuance and complexity is required to even begin.
Surely, bodies can be sick, and all the parts within a body can be sick as well. We intuitively grasp that a sick part is in relationship to a compromised body, and the myriad systems which govern such a body. The brain is no different, so we must honor and acknowledge the awareness of the body in order to meet the needs of the brain.
Our bodies don't exist in isolation. Mental health awareness is not something to be valued just because it immediately impacts us or a loved one. The brain is a social organ, which develops and deteriorates through the presence or lack of social engagement. Our society is as healthy as the brains occupying and governing our collective body, and these brains are capable of favorably and harmoniously revising society to the extent that they are healthy. Any inability to see the connection between the supposed mental health crisis and the epidemic of social isolation and revered narcissism is missing a level of complexity required to save humanity as a whole.
This is all to say that when we look into our televisions, or our computers, or our phones, or out our windows, what we are really seeing is a reflection in the mirror, showing us our collective brain. Comprehension of this dance between the personal and the collective is the essence of mental health awareness. Perhaps we could spend the rest of May courageously gazing into this mirror, holding a higher level of awareness, which inevitably includes mental health.
Thank you for doing what you do, for yourself, and so for the world; for the world, and so for yourself. We have our work cut out for each other, which is a great joy, because we are together.