Present-Go to the doctor! The expression that shows that we do not take care of our mental health

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Present - Go to the doctor !

Deputy Inigo Erixon demanded more resources for mental illnesses in public health and from the bench another deputy, Carmelo Romero, snapped: “Go to the doctor.” What does this expression tell us about how we embrace mental health in our country?

Present - Go to the doctor !

That in the Congress of Deputies a deputy –Carmelo Romero–, blurts out to another – Inigo Erixon– the expression “Go to the doctor” as if it were an insult, after defending that greater resources are required for the care of illnesses mental health in public health in these tough times, says a lot. It says a lot about how we do not take care or how we take care of our mental health in Spain. The psychiatrist Irene Muñoz reflects on this aspect in the following opinion article.

WHY DON’T WE TAKE CARE OF OUR MENTAL HEALTH?

For a long time, mental health is not a purely health issue, but a social health issue and that a madman, a schizophrenic, a psychotic if you prefer, is not able to get ahead without social support, without the State supporting through resources social. It has been a long time since it has been shown that a consultation with four walls and a doctor inside prescribing drugs is useless, without listening and a good therapeutic relationship.

We have been aware for much longer, as mental health professionals that making voices invisible, stigmatizing and silencing them is not a coincidence.

It does not matter that the woman overwhelmed by domestic care and work obligations bothers with her discomforts, it is preferable that she self-medicate with various anxiolytics. I don’t even have to name Trankimazin, Orfidal, Lexatin, or Valium.

We can go back in time and find seemingly even safer solutions that society has invented as the vitaminized painkiller. That product that was a compound of caffeine that a housewife advertised with the slogan “happy all day, soothing vitamin gives you back joy” and that allowed her to carry out her daily tasks.

I write about this woman as I could write about the family that does not make ends meet, that is evicted, of the adolescent who decides to take drugs because he is going through a life crisis, of mistreatment, of the immigrant who suffers racism in small acts. I speak of sexual abuse, economic problems, pandemics, inequalities, difference, what is hidden, what is feared, I speak of the stigma of mental health.

STOP? THERE IS NO TIME. “GIVE ME SOMETHING FOR ANXIETY”

Probably, returning to that woman, what she needed was to be able to express her emotions, work on different aspects that would allow her to generate a change in her life, end the fundamental and original cause of her psychic destabilization and improve from the affective point of view of that woman mode. But you can see that if it takes a long time to write, much more to carry out and that, as I say, does not matter.

Because we need speed, productivity and guarantees. And above all, and above all we want results. We demand answers. When will it pass? What medication do I take? And we do not allow ourselves the time to elaborate our own questions. Why am I not feeling well? What affects me in this way? Should I stop? Just hearing that word more than one or one shudders. Stop? There is no time. “Give me something for the anxiety.”

Anxiety, and whoever has suffered from it will know it, is a bodily reaction that many describe as a sensation of imminent death. It is literally that if you don’t stop when you have to stop, your body does it for you. At that time, people go to the emergency room demanding a pill that will solve the problem.

BUT IS ANXIETY REALLY THE PROBLEM?

Anxiety is a symptom that insists, bothers and indicates a deeper discomfort, something in the life of the subject that supposes an unresolved internal conflict and that requires a psychotherapeutic intervention that will allow to find the cause. But the “pill” takes about a minute to take effect and frees us from the pang in the heart, and psychotherapy takes months, years depending on the orientation of the pill and the severity of the case.

What do we choose? The pill”. What happens then? That the attacks are repeated, that we take more and more doses of the prescribed drug since with anxiolytics what we call tolerance is generated, the body needs more doses to obtain the same effect as with the initial dose of drug, that the discomfort does not stop Rather, it increases and that economic problems, the death of a loved one, unemployment, emotional breakdowns or whatever it was that brought us to that psychiatric consultation is still there, unresolved.

PSYCHIC IS NOT JUST A QUESTION OF HEALTH

But that’s just one of the parts. As I have already pointed out, for a long time the psychic is not only a question of health, I said socio-sanitary and now I add economic health. I have been practicing this profession for a few years now and I can tell you for sure that the most time-consuming thing in a psychiatric consultation is trying to convince a patient to withdraw an anxiolytic. And I agree with him. If you limped and the orthopedist told you to remove the crutch, would you listen to him? And continuing with the metaphor, what does it take so that we can withdraw the anxiolytic without “falling”?

It takes time in consultation, listening and a good therapeutic alliance.

Now guess what (who and how much) depends on whether there is enough time in consultation to start a psychotherapy that generates change and support so that that person can advance in their psychic process and can thus not start or withdraw the drug if this is necessary.

And now think, if what I have told you is already difficult, how can someone who does not want to get out of bed because he is in deep depression, who is not even able to feed himself, lives a continuous anguish for not wanting to go out since this pandemic broke out, come to the consultation, become aware of your discomfort, do not be ashamed, do not feel guilty and seek help?

We need to take care of our mental health but we cannot do it individually because, as I have already tried to show, mental health is precisely something that often goes unnoticed and that when it breaks, it needs an Other to help it. For that we need to raise awareness, end the stigma and beyond that, begin to consider it a health, economic and social health priority if you allow me.

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