What if we said Mental Wealth instead of Mental Health?

Our Mental Wealth is a valuable resource that can be diminished and replenished

Olatunde Spence, 2021

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, homelessness trauma, 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.

Copyright: Olatunde Spence, 4th April 2021. See Olatundes website here

Olatunde has extensive experience of working with people from diverse and marginalised communities to include Black and Minority Ethnic Communities, LGBTQ Communities and autistic adults and young people. She works within a framework that recognises the impact of oppression and discrimination on well-being and identity. 

Olatunde has experience of working with people who hear voices and have been involved in the International Hearing Voices movement for over 30 years.

Olatunde is HCPC registered, a member of the British Association of Art Therapist (BAAT) and Member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. (MBACP) She has a trauma informed approach and use both Children’s Accelerated Trauma Treatment (CATT) and EMDR in her practice. 

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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