A Manifesto: Build Back Better Mental Health in Wales
The old story of mental health is no longer fit for purpose. COVID-19 has shown us all first-hand how our circumstances impact our mental health.
Too often when we talk about mental health we focus on the individual. We put the problem on the individual and we ask, “What’s wrong with you”, but this is misleading and unhelpful.You cannot understand mental health without first considering somebody’s circumstances.
This means asking: Do they have access to nurturing friendships and relationships? Do they feel connected to their local community? Do they have secure housing, secure employment, and access to education?If we think like this, then the most useful question is, “What’s happened to you?” Not, “What’s wrong with you”.
The global pandemic has affected everyone. Many of us have experienced and will continue to experience distress due to COVID-19. However, those also facing isolation, job insecurity, food poverty, or living in an abusive or stressful household will be significantly more impacted.
The early years of life are vital, but children live in circumstances that they are powerless to change. They cannot think their way out of their problems, and they are dependent on the adults around them. Similarly, adults living in distress and strain due to their circumstances cannot think their way out of these circumstances.
Therefore, this is not about creating more access to one-to-one therapy, counselling, or mental health services.
Instead, we need to ask ourselves:How do we create the right conditions for children and adults to thrive now?
How do we stop the intergenerational cycles of trauma being passed from one generation to the next?
How do we support the next generation to have good mental health?