I wanted to think about mental health in a way that acknowledges and recognises our capacity and resilience to deal with life’s challenges. Our internal world is rich and diverse and at different times in our lives we find ourselves having to adjust and adapt to new situations that can undermine our sense of who we are e.g illness, birth, death, unemployment, migration, etc.
When we use or hear the term mental health it is used, in the main, negatively to describe ‘illness’ or deficit of. I began thinking about mental wealth after mis-hearing what someone had said in conversation. This misunderstanding led me to think about what is evoked in my mind by using the term Mental Wealth. So today I searched for a dictionary definition of “Wealth” meaning – an abundance of valuable material possessions or resources.
I want to challenge this term and replace ‘mental health’ with Mental Wealth.
Mental Wealth recognises an abundance of valuable materials, wisdom and resources that can help us to navigate change, loss and at times unbearable pain that might leave us depleted of our inherent resources. Unfortunately within mental health services the pathologising of one’s experiences robs us of our inherent strengths, culture, resources, habits and identity, replacing these ‘valuables’ with a ‘diagnosis’ that rarely identifies, strengths and assets that have supported us in the past to overcome adversity.
I hope by recognising people’s Mental Wealth we can begin to unpack and identify the resources, the skills, the strengths and the richness of a person’s experience and think about what recovery from adverse events might look like for each unique individual with a unique set of skills and circumstances.
Our Mental Wealth is a valuable resource that can be diminished and replenished.