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The Problem with Talking about 'Mental Health'

Can I be totally honest with you?

I think we need to ditch the term Mental Health.


There are multiple reasons.

Allow me to unpick one of them here:

Firstly, the term Mental Health, presupposes a distinction between mental and physical health.

And that, my friends, is a load of - um - codswallop.

I confess that I sometimes use the term for ease of reference - particularly when doing corporate work - but its reductiveness literally makes me wince.

Here’s the backstory of how this schism came to be …

This split between mind and body dates back to the 1700s when Descartes, a French physician and philosopher, was granted permission by the Church to dissect bodies for medical research.

But there was a catch.

He could only study the body within a material frame of reference. The realm of consciousness i.e. the realm of thoughts, emotions and spirit was to be left unexamined: this was the Church’s domain.

To consider the mind and body as separate entities, though, is simply inaccurate.

The Research

Research in psychoneuroimmunology has revealed that there is no distinction between body and mind. While you often think of emotions as non-physical states, they can actually take on the characteristics of BOTH energy AND matter; wave and particle (Pert, 2006).

If you've ever worked with somatic techniques like EFT, Havening, NLP or Somatic Experiencing, you know this through the work you've done on yourself as well as the work that you facilitate for others.

Consider the times that you’ve tapped or havened on “the red hot ball of anger in my stomach” or on “the sadness that feels heavy and sludgy around the crown of my head and my eyes”. And consider how the energy of the thoughts and emotions shift as you tap; how they transform as your clients tap or haven (if you're a practitioner) as you bring the body online and acupoint stimulation into play.

It’s beautiful.

It’s glorious how sensory input allows us to connect with deep-rooted feelings and thought patterns and gently bring them into the light of conscious awareness so they can be transmuted and transformed.

It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring how the body, as the physical manifestation of the subconscious mind, becomes our teacher and our guide.

It tells us where we’ve lost our way. Where we’re looking for love in the wrong places. It tells us where we have unmet needs.

You can’t access this kind of healing just by focusing from the neck up

By changing the language we use, we further shape and refine our understanding of ourselves. By looking at Mental Health through the lens of Mind-Body integration, we have the opportunity to make sense of the body’s feedback in a new way. It reminds us that everything in our life impacts the web of our being: that the whole cannot be well if the part is not well.

So let’s talk about health in a holistic sense. Let’s talk about Holistic Well-being. It’s empowering to accurately name things because it allows us to fully claim its gifts - the joy, pleasure, resilience, delight, aliveness - that are our birthright.

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