When are we going to clean up the mess?

For this month’s environment theme we have a throwback piece by Philip Patston from 2011 – 

Yesterday I met Steve Green, the NZ Executive Director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, an international not for profit organisation that looks at mental health issues and asissts victims of mental health abuse.

He had a great analogy for understanding environmental impacts on mental health.

He alluded to the situation of the stranded vessel Rena in the Tauranga harbour. The wildlife is stressed and anxious because of the toxic oil which is destroying their habitat.

We don’t diagnose them with anxiety disorder, medicate them and stigmatise them. We recognise their behaviour as a natural response to an environmental disaster. We clean up the mess, albeit slowly, looking after the birds and animals in the meantime.

What stops us taking the same approach with people? What stops us looking at the social environment — bullying, poverty, inequity, mass media, isolation, the list goes on — not to mention the physical environment — pollution, overcrowding, urban jungles, mass transport — and seeing the behavioural responses to these as natural rather than pathological?

When will we stop medicating and stigmatising people, particularly children, and start looking after them?

When are we going to clean up the mess?

While you ponder, watch this brilliant video (it made me cry!)…

Originally posted here: http://www.philippatston.com/blog/when-are-we-going-to-clean-up-the-mess/

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