Reflections of a Bipolar Mental Health Consultant.

As someone who has been diagnosed bipolar 1 and conquered it, I bring a unique perspective to mental health consultancy. I adopt a holistic approach when dealing with the issue. Mind, body and soul are interconnected and often we neglect the spiritual component. For me, that was the most significant change that I made that now allows me to live symptom and drug-free. I am of the belief that a prerequisite for a great mental health consultant should be the experience of mental illness.

People of African origin are more spiritual by nature and so I believe there is a stronger incidence of mental “illness” as a result of this. We do have to acknowledge the institutional racism which for young black men means we are 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness. We are not 17 times crazier than our white counterparts so the psychiatrists, psychologists and police have some explaining to do. Furthermore, I believe this deeper spirituality that African people have also impacted the effects that drugs such as Cannabis have on the mind and spirit. That was my drug of choice during the summer when I was sectioned and the relationship can not be ignored.

Also, the society in which we live in is geared towards causing mental health crises in particular communities. When you are in school they teach you that your history begins with slavery. That is some serious psychological warfare that is happening in our schools. This is compounded with media representation, ghettoisation, gentrification, institutional racism, overt racism, xenophobia, poor physical health, crime and poverty. Many of these things can be avoided by simply achieving knowledge of self. Knowing your history and value will lead to behavioural changes and a different perspective on life. Also staying away from drugs should be added to the mix.

To people with mental illness, I say do not wear it as a badge of honour. Work on correcting whatever the problem is. Find the root cause and put your all into healing yourself. The worst thing a depressed person can do is to surround themselves with other depressed people. It gets to the point where people are trying to out-depress each other. Also, do not hate your friends who are trying to help by saying positive things to inspire you. Ask yourself whether your diet is on point? consider what drugs you are taking — both legal and illegal, are you self-medicating? are you getting enough exercise? are you getting enough sunshine? are you getting enough love? where are you at spiritually? You should not be proud to have a so-called mental illness, no one is proud to be born blind, or have cancer or HIV, be grateful that your affliction can be healed.

The trends that I have noticed are that mental health funding is being cut, which has a significant impact on the quality of service. The diagnosis process is an opinion based exercise and you will get different diagnoses depending on who you talk to and what their agenda is. Furthermore the use of police cells as “places of safety” is still happening, which is shocking in 2016. Young people are being diagnosed younger than ever and more frequently than before. the self-esteem and body image of our young people is being decimated. Not to mention the stress of the education system. it isn’t easy growing up in this modern society. The veil of stigma is slowly being uncovered, but more work needs to be done by the community and the government themselves

I have written a book about how I beat Bipolar Disorder. You can read the first 3 chapters on www.repsoc.org. I’ll be launching the book Oct. 27 at REEL TALKS, a community conference where we will be continuing the mental health conversation, join us

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