Last night, I was privileged to be in the full house of people listening to Svend Robinson lecture on Restorative Justice and mental illness. (I volunteer at the Community Justice Centre here in the Comox Valley). During his inspirational, informative and courageous talk, I found myself reflecting on how much we individuate and stignify mental illness in our culture. Yet, more and more I am convinced that it is our culture and our institutions that are mentally ill. Our judicial system is still subjecting rape victims to further emotional assault. Our Dr’s are encouraged to be pill pushers, without effective training or sufficient time to help their patients in the ways they need in order to heal. They don’t yet seem to understand the links between emotional trauma and illness. Our politicians and corporate leaders all too often apparently think that it’s OK to pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that grows our food. If that is not a sign of mental illness, I don’t know what is.
Sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children remains rampant in our society, yet the vast majority of survivors of childhood trauma have NO access to competent, effective help. So they grow up traumatized, and all too often get diagnosed as mentally ill, and given pills that may mask the symptoms but never deal with the underlying causes. We need to help people as individuals to heal while agitating for institutional and political change of priorities away from the mighty dollar to our collective mental, physical and emotional health.