Why Politics on a Mental Health Website
Reasons to Discuss Politics on a Mental Health Website
This article breaks down the many reasons to talk about politics on a mental health website. It highlights the ways mental health affects politics and politics affects mental health. (As a note, most of what is “politics” on this website is directly related to human rights issues as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
The World Influences You
One of the first things any aspiring social worker learns is that mental health is a biological, psychological, and sociological concept. Your body influences your mind influences your world. Your world influences your mind influences your body. Some add spiritual to that, pointing out that many people make a distinction between psychological and spiritual ideas, and that’s valid.
Regardless of your perspective, your mental health is influenced by things outside your control. These can include the institutions of your world, including legal, educational, and healthcare systems. It can include family and friends and your local community. Your environment can influence your mental health, as can your circumstances in life.
Sometimes, in fact, when people come for mental health assistance, what they’re really struggling with isn’t a problem with them, its a problem with the world they live in.
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You Influence the World
Whether or not you’re a person with a great deal of power, influence, money, and/or time, your presence in the world changes the world. You may only “make a difference” for a few friends and co-workers and family members. You may make decisions that affect hundreds or thousands or millions or even billions of people. Either way, the things you do matter. Because they matter, it is better to think about how you make a difference, so that you make a better difference.
What kind of parent do you want to be? Who do you want your child to be? What kind of employee, boss, business owner, or homemaker do you want to be? What kind of community member do you want to be? Thinking about those questions in the context of “what do I want the world to look like” helps you to make better choices.
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Things Happen That Affect Us All
In economics, there is an idea called the “problem of the commons”. Loosely stated, the idea is based on the “village green” which was an area of most European towns until roughly a couple of hundred years ago that all of the residents of that village could use at will. It was often used to graze animals, for small gardens, and for recreation. The problem is that during difficult times, or for other reasons, frequently a town would discover that someone, or more likely lots of someones, was misusing the green and ruining it so that no one could use it.
The green was also called the “commons” which forms the basis for the problem. When all or most people get access to a resource, but no one person or entity has responsibility for it, generally the resource becomes unusable due to misuse or overuse unless the common starts to clearly define responsibility and enforce it. There are lots of problems of the commons in modern politics, the biggest and most important being climate change. Smaller ones affect countries, provinces or states, counties and cities or towns.
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Knowledge Helps Us Heal
You may not have any power, influence, time, or money to affect the political decisions that affect you, but knowing and understanding the key issues can, at the very least, help us use the systems built by politics more effectively. Knowing how things work can help us access key things we need, and avoid key dangers to us. Understanding a system can help us accept the reality of that system in such a way that we can work within it until we (or others) can change it.
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Engagement Can Be Fulfilling
For some folks, participating in political actions and engaging in conversations and communities organized around a cause can help them to feel better about themselves, form healthier relationships, and build skills that help them in life. Some people enjoy being in the thick of the social aspects of organization, others research or other background support tasks.
Some simply enjoy having discussions with strangers on the internet or on the phone to educate them or inform them. All of these are valid ways to make a difference. And some folk merely like to support and sometimes feed and provide shelter for those who are doing all of the above.
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The Bottom Line
There are dozens of ways politics and mental health intersect. To honor that, it is important to discuss politics on a mental health website. Specific laws or policies can help or hurt people disabled by or simply dealing with mental illness. Mental health can be helped or harmed by engagement in particular issues. Social trends in a country can be dangerous to one or more populations that are vulnerable to increasing mental health concerns as a result. So it would be remiss of me to not discuss the world and how it affects us as I also discuss how we can affect the world.
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