Keystone Individuals

In the documentary Normal is Over the term Keystone Individuals was used to describe people who are making a difference in their own unique way.

As I watched the film I thought: mental health advocates could learn lessons from climate change activists.

The mental health community needs Keystone Individuals more than ever to promote what I termed years ago The Positive Psychiatry Movement in a HealthCentral news article.

This is because before we can heal the planet we need to heal ourselves.

Each one of us can make a difference.

In a bout of synchronicity: just before watching Normal is Over I decided to adopt the shopping ethic of buying fewer clothes yet ones of better quality.

Buying fewer clothes is one way to help save the planet. Buying organic food is another way to help save the planet.

More to the point: how can mental health advocates reverse the entrenched failures that are more than a trend they have become the new normal in treating or failing to treat people with emotional problems?

We can start what I’ve called Citizen Mental Health Action Committees.

The jails-as-mental-hospitals phenomenon has been going on for decades. Talking about this problem hasn’t solved it.

We need to DO something about it.

In this way everything is interconnected: people with mental illnesses who abuse street drugs shouldn’t wind up in jail. They need long-term treatment.

Telling our stories–and continuing to tell them–is one way to plant the seeds of change in other people’s minds.

To this end I’m going to talk about my own experience in a Flourish blog entry tomorrow.

Telling our stories is imperative. Living in hiding isn’t an option if we have the ability to tell our stories and effect change.

I don’t advise disclosing to an employer or to coworkers.

Yet in my own life I’m committed to speaking out.

Part of the solution lies in how each of us treats the people we meet.

We are all interconnected to every human being living on earth.

If we can frame achieving optimal mental health for ourselves, our loved ones, and others as a need as pressing as climate change: we’re halfway there.

Becoming healthier in mind, body, and spirit is the first step in reclaiming the planet.

The destruction of human lives lost to mental illness is as great if not a greater catastrophe than climate change.

Change starts with having compassion.

We need to act towards others the way we want them to act towards us.

In my estimation love is louder than hate.

So I’ll be writing a couple maybe even a few blog entries about this topic.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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