The Big Story mental health
A healthy mind in a healthy society
Beyond pills and therapy, there’s a vast, unexplored area of promise for our mental health. Dinyar Godrej on the need to make individual recovery a social concern.
P h o t o g r a p h y
H a r v e y
Sitting in the waiting room of a busy psychologists’ practice in Rotterdam, I’m intrigued by the furtive nature of the experience. People waiting for their 50 minutes of focused talk avoid each other’s eyes, acknowledging each other with embarrassment, if at all. I could be in the waiting room of a sexually transmitted diseases clinic.
I’m a bit puzzled. With the increased familiarity of stress-related problems nowadays, shouldn’t this kind of guilt (no other word quite captures it) be a thing of the past?
Depression is so common that at times it has felt as if I had more friends who were battling it than weren’t. Various compulsive behaviours are constantly pored over by the media, often in an attempt to demystify them. With the advent of the internet there has been an explosion of mental health issues advocacy. Sound, down-toearth information is now easily available, perhaps excessively so. Surely we are better equipped than ever to view mental distress and illness as part of a continuum of our life experience, rather than as a site of stigma and taboo?
14 ● N ew I n t e r nat i o nal i s t ● MAY 2 012