If we are serious about suicide prevention… what about this conversation?

I find myself constantly despairing about the missed opportunities to change our ways of thinking in order to prevent mental illness and suicide.

I’m worried we are taking a less than optimally effective approach to suicide prevention.

I was reading about Australia’s  “you can talk about suicide” launch.

I found no reference to shame in the document and that concerns me, as shame, I think, isn’t far from self-loathing if it’s not talked about, shared and normalised.

What about “How to have conversations which disclose and normalise the experience of shame, and self shaming internal dialogue?”

I don’t believe we can have an effective conversation about suicide until we are skilled up in having this conversation. 

I think it’s not that hard, but the principles of the conversation are counter-cultural.. let’s start on that project ASAP rather than conversations which assume that depression or anxiety have an internal locus (diagnostic model) with a biochemical basis, on top of causal genetics and experiences and therefore respond to fortification or medication.

The diagnostic model is struggling to achieve great results in primary prevention. It’s had an OK effect on secondary prevention but I strongly believe that looking at the social construction of mental illness might be more fruitful. 

Let’s start the conversation with the question “We all suffer from shame in some form or another. What would I need to do differently so that you and I/we all can talk about our shame and work together against its effects?”

What do you think?

“Mental Illness” and medical students with Anxiety/Depression

So today I heard on the radio that 3 point something percent of medical students are suffering from a severe form or mental illness, which was described as anxiety or depression. A brave young doctor spoke out about her own experience. You can find the information here .

What I want to say about this is simple, and I believe vital.

That we regard “anxiety/depression” as “mental illness” is part of the problem.

Continue reading “Mental Illness” and medical students with Anxiety/Depression

Do you do an emotional workout?

It’s 11am and I’ve already (unintentionally) done my emotional workout for the day. It started with a phone call where I learned about a senior doctor (supported by two colleagues) bullying medical students. (not in my town fortunately!)  They berated the students, accusing them of arrogance, stupidity and weakness. The students were told “Know your place!” all because the students asked to be excused from an activity so they could study for their upcoming exams. Haven’t these doctors been reading the news?

ANGER– Which I have re-narrated as “passion for justice”. When will we turn our medical culture around? I felt ashamed of and angry with some members of my profession.

Then I read about the outpouring of generosity for the homeless student who wants to be a criminologist and is living in a tent under a bridge (It must be SOOO cold!) I shed a tear or two.

THANKFULNESS TO OTHERS for being so compassionate. I felt good to be a human.

Then I remembered all the work I had to do today! I had a little panic.

FEAR- I had a little chat with fear, thanking it for reminding me not to waste the whole day, and re-examined my expectations. I wouldn’t try to do so much. The panic was a little less overwhelming

Then I decided to head down to the local coffee shop for coffee and a croissant (yes I know it’s pro-inflammatory! and yes it might have been avoidance!) The new Florence and the Machine album was playing, the sun was streaming in, and some kind patrons were rescuing a terrified wandering little dog outside. I read a funny clip in the Herald Sun from a lavatory in Japan

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 11.43.48 am

LAUGHTER AND JOY

That’s it. Workout over. On with the working day!

Must get a physical workout in later!