The initial Mindapples research survey aims to get an idea from the public what are the 5 most important things they do regularly to help them maintain their mental wellbeing. This is very exciting indeed!
We hear a lot from experts about mental health but rarely ask regular people what they personally have come to appreciate makes a difference to them. Therefore the underlying premise for asking the question is a belief that what we do ourselves, our actions, behaviours and habits have an impact on how we feel and contribute to our overall wellness, both physical and mental.
My favourite psychologist, Albert Bandura, believed that humans are agentic and from this perspective people are viewed as self-organizing, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating, not just as reactive organisms shaped by environmental forces or driven by inner impulses. So Bandura’s research points away from a Freudian view, one which can lead to feelings of helplessness and illness, to things which can encourage people to feel they have little positive contribution to make to their own mental vibrancy.
Of course our actions and habits only contribute partly to our wellness, and serious mental illness, is exactly that, serious. But how many people think that they can manage their milder depression symptoms for example by taking care of their physical health? How many people will include in their top 5, factors which Maslow would include as elements of self-actualization, opportunities to be creative, to be trusted … or are these considered by-products of an already healthy mind, which are ensured by more basic essentials?
As therapeutic language seeps into general use what do we think makes a difference? Is ‘self-help’ partly an exploitative industry . . . or at its essence a very basic and fundamental way of reclaiming our personal agency to help ourselves flourish?