01 October 2004

Mind/body split misses the point

Health is a complete state of mind and as a result, there is no health without mental health. Why then, do people still view the mind as separable from the body?

Seventeenth-century philosopher Rene Descartes conceptualised the distinction between the mind and the body. He viewed the "mind" as completely separable from the "body". And for almost two centuries, mental health advocates have been trying to put them back together.

This separation between so-called "mental" and" physical" health has no real relevance to the scientific understanding of health in the 21st century; yet the myths and misinformation persist.

Mental health advocates all over the world have, in almost apologetic posturing, said that this false premise should no longer exist and yet these voices continue to go unheard. The time has come to reinforce what we stand for - mind and body are inseparable: health is a complete state of well-being - and there is no health without mental health.

Why do these myths continue?
Dr Patt Franciosi, president of the World Federation for Mental Health, suggests that systems of health care globally reinforce this prejudice, and to create changes would require major paradigm shifts in policy and the delivery of health services.

Mental health care would have to be mainstreamed and the stigma and discrimination born by people with mental illnesses would have to end. There would be no excuses for marginalising the funding for the delivery of mental health services and we would have to insure that prevention of mental illness and promotion of mental health receive their fair share of public health resources.

In the best of all worlds, this would have happened long before now. We have missed so many important years of valuable research on the interrelationships of all aspects of the body and the importance of organ connections and the brain’s capacity for health and healing. – (Mental Health Information Centre)


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