By Bart Magee, Ph.D.
In my previous two posts, I examined our failure as a society to truly address the mental illness/wellness crisis in our midst. The evidence and consequences of this failure are everywhere as rates of mental illness rise along with related social problems, trillions of dollars in costs, widespread suffering, and death. Another consequence of continuing to marginalize psychological and emotional problems is that we perpetuate a myth that the causes of depression, anxiety and other forms of severe emotional distress aren’t well understood and don’t have effective treatments. For the latter half of the 20th century and continuing today, the dominant thinking about mental illness has privileged biomedical causes and technical interventions like medications and behavioral therapies. However, because biological factors are only one of a number of contributors to emotional problems, basing treatments solely on them has led to narrow and disappointing results. This is a well-established fact. But rather than rectifying a misguided approach, there has been a doubling down on the search for brain-based causes and treatments. Much of this is wasted energy and it diverts our attention and obscures the truth. We do know the fundamental causes of serious mental illness and we already have excellent treatments and other remedies at hand. We are continuing to expand our knowledge of the mind, but what we need more than greater knowledge is a new approach to the problem. That’s how we solve mental illness.