Please Note: The ideas contained in this FAQ are the opinions of the writer and are communicated without reference to supporting documentation in most cases. Other inspiration and influence for the writing came through consultation with other mental health professionals but the writer “Peter Quintano” is also fully qualified in DBT making him qualified to talk about the things discussed in this article.
One of the questions that haunts me as a therapist and person who has struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is this: “why do people keep suffering from BPD when there are many resources and services available to treat it?” I believe this question is important and valid considering the great tragedy that BPD can bring into the lives of the afflicted. Indeed, lives can be largely wasted and families severely harmed over this one mental health issue!
No doubt this kind of question doesn’t have any simple answers. For Borderline Personality Disorder and likewise, for many other mental health issues, it can be complicated to sort out the variables, to find healing and develop healthy patterns of living. Nonetheless, perhaps we could all agree that further reflection and consideration for “what to do” in light of such weighty matters remains very important?
For some time I have been exploring the online world of mental health and available supports for BPD. One of the main things I have noticed is the many well-intentioned people who really do seem to care and are trying to make a difference (much like this site). Many people and organizations are actively engaged in mental health support activities and activism (social media campaigns, celebrity campaigns, corporate campaigns, online chat, mental health bloggers, mental health days, etc. etc.). All of it is awe-inspiring and impressive.
Likewise important to factor in are the many offline supports (hospitals, funded clinics, and so on) that have been trying to help others with these sorts of issues for many years. Millions in tax surely get spent every year trying to keep these services active and available to the masses. Then there are the legions of private practitioners who are available to take on patients.
Nonetheless, Borderline Personality Disorder seems to remain a recurrent and widespread problem. People keep getting diagnosed with this disorder and likewise with many other related conditions and there is no shortage of patients for the ever-dwindling number of therapists! Perhaps BPD is just one of those human disorders that happens no matter what you do? Or is it?
One has to wonder if the available supports and programs are making the necessary impacts for real and lasting change to occur, or are they all together making only limited or superficial impacts?
If the possibility exists that all of the available supports for improving mental health (and in particular supports for BPD) are only making modest or superficial improvements, and people keep getting sick anyways, then what else might be going on here? Is there something else not being considered to reduce the scale of this problem? Are we really on our way to reducing the prevalence of BPD with everything that is being done?
While at times there is lots of collective attention brought to mental health, it still doesn’t seem to change the priority placement of mental health in the lives of everyday people. Collective attention seems to be just that… collective attention… and so mental health becomes a “popular topic” for a time. In other words, the collective attention for mental health most likely waxes and wanes as the media attention comes and goes, and people then switch back to carrying on in the modern world as producers and consumers… basically switching back to patterns of mental health neglect.
If the priority placement of mental health did realistically change in people’s lives after all these collective forms of attention were given, there would be a lot less ongoing mental health difficulty and therapists being so busy, wouldn’t there? But there isn’t. So what is going on here?
Perhaps we have established a pattern of mental health neglect in society because there is no obvious benefit (for instance, no monetary benefit) that is attached to mental health-promoting behaviours. Monetary rewards are commonly attached to everyday work behaviours and routines that, unfortunately, can also easily preoccupy us, consume the bulk of our daily energy reserves, and therefore induce chronic neglect to mental health… and so again and again resulting in disease and disorder.
Does this seem like a very real and common reality to you too?
I wonder what would happen if someone actively participated in mental health promoting behaviours (such as studying mental health concepts and skills, practising said concepts and skills in everyday life, and then completed a reflective journal about their experience) and was thereafter rewarded financially… or better yet, had a powerful way to multiply the financial rewards as a result of following through with these health-promoting behaviours? Would the priority placement of the health-promoting behaviours go up?
At BPD.ORGUK we believe this may very well be true!
I am therefore going to boldly suggest that mental health improvement itself become an industry, such that working on mental health becomes both intrinsically rewarding (healing things on the inside) and extrinsically rewarding (life enhancing on the outside) at the same time. A huge benefit to being innovative like this might include modifying a large-scale behavioural pattern of mental health neglect… or in other words, changing the pattern of WAITING TOO LONG to invest time and attention into these seriously important health matters.
Indeed, without any monetary benefit attached to mental health promoting behaviours, it seems probable that many people could indefinitely remain vulnerable to developing conditions like Borderline Personality Disorder.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a way to both learn about mental health and earn additional income at the same time? It would be a completely different paradigm for mental health…. one that acknowledges repeating patterns of mental health neglect and ongoing potential for disease and disorder in modern society, but then also adapts by doing something radically different and realistic about it? We all need money to live, and likewise, we all need to get sufficiently skilled/trained so as to become and remain mentally stable in the modern world.
The point of this new paradigm for mental health is to be both proactive and innovative… to help masses of people get knowledgeable and skilled about mental health sooner rather than later (or not ever) and therefore prevent masses of people from slipping through the cracks and losing out on the joy of living due to mental health issues going undetected and untreated for FAR TOO LONG. Perhaps a new approach to mental health in general is what is needed as societies apparently continues to fail so many humans time and time again.
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