Are Mental Problems Social Problems?

August 28, 2021 Health & Healing, Sociocultural Issues No Comments

Psycho-social. There is always an interplay. Looking in-depth, even more so. No issue will be solved by putting one against the other. Meanwhile, individuals need guidance and support as total persons, not as wheels in some clockwork.

‘Mental problems’

For the sake of this text, I categorize as such all issues regarded as psychological or psychiatric problems. In some way, one can also include psycho-somatic problems.

Also, one can plead for the term ‘issue’ instead of ‘problem.’ In coaching, this becomes quite relevant. For the sake of this text, ‘problem’ is more precise, especially at the start.

Mental or moral?

There is a tendency – tradition, by now – to see mental problems as issues for which the affected individuals are not responsible ― read: guilty.

This is the reverse of a few centuries ago when mental problems were mainly seen as moral problems, from God’s punishment to the result of morally wrong decisions in one’s past.

When they became diseases, very roughly around 1900, they still were seen as morally induced. Gradually, the brain took over as an explanation together with a mechanized view on the human being in health and disease, including mental illness. Doctors became technicians, including psychiatrists, diagnosing and treating disease A with therapy Z.


In the sixties and beyond, some psychiatrists rebelled (correct term) against what they saw as medicalization/mechanization of mental issues. Above all, they saw and still see the causes of mental illness mainly in modern society’s excesses.

In this thinking, too much is being asked of individuals through rules or pressure to adhere to societal norms.

The result?

An increasing number of people fall off the mental cliff. Society, wanting to roll on and not take the blame, tries to pin them down before falling. This is, through treating them pharmacologically or otherwise.

If this doesn’t help, they are allowed to fall. Meanwhile, bad society goes on with business as usual.

I miss in this the total person and Inner Strength.

Without losing oneself in guilt again [see: “Always Responsible, Never Guilty”], looking for causes in society is good without exaggeration. Also, making society guilty puts one guilt against the other. Before long, there is a battle of guilty opinions, anxiety, and aggression.

Individuals, whether or not they have mental issues, deserve optimal support as total persons. This support should not primarily be meant to turn them into productive elements. Anyway, that’s also very inefficient towards society itself.

We all have mental issues.

Note how we came from problems to issues to “We’re all in the same boat.”

It’s better to support human beings towards becoming better human beings. This is: personal human growth, towards being better equipped for happiness and Compassion. This also naturally makes a better society that can take better care of real people.

This may be the best way – probably the only one – to mold society itself towards what our friends, the anti-psychiatrists (from whom I read several books long ago) intended.

People make society.

Good people ― good society.

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