Mental health in context…
It’s impossible to work with mental health as something that’s purely in our minds, especially in the current socio-political climate.
If I’m asked ‘What’s the hardest thing about your job?’ it’s coming up against systemic oppression, disempowerment, and inequality. It is difficult to maintain a state of good mental health (whatever that means to you) when there are things that chip away at your ability to have this.
The idea that we should be fine, no matter what, runs deep due to lots of reasons. It might be the way we’re socialised in our gender, messages from our family and culture, as well as capitalist societal expectations to have the same level of output even if your input (rest, finances, support network, safety) changes. These might lead us to tell ourselves to be strong, don’t show emotions, look after others first… and criticise ourselves when we don’t live up to these internalised expectations.
Just because you’re struggling it doesn’t mean you’re failing to cope. It would be impossible to not feel the impact of every day living.
As psychotherapists we need to shift our understanding of ‘What’s wrong with the person?’ to ‘What’s going on in their lives to chip away at their internal/external resources, sense of self, and ability to live freely and safely?’. In this way we minimise pathologising our clients’ lived experiences and how they affect them, finding ways to facilitate empowerment in a disempowering world.