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Creative Disruption

Disruption in a business sense refers to a strategy where a new business disrupts an established business. Sometimes that disruption catches on and everybody gets on board with the new product, service, or way of doing things. I’m interested in applying this idea of disruption to Mental Health. We hear so often that our mental health system is broken. As a therapist that has worked in community mental health agencies, I have witnessed it and been frustrated by it. At some points that has been in poorly run agencies that I’ve left due to ethical concerns. However, I’ve also experienced it at well-run places that are ethical and do their best to put the safety of the client first only to get blocked by bureaucracy and antiquated systems. These systems often keep people from getting the help they need instead of supporting them in improving wellness.

So how do we do it? On the one hand there are possibly some steps we’ve taken as a country toward better healthcare by requiring insurance, etc. On the other hand, it is insurance companies that have set limits on preventative healthcare regarding mental health by often requiring a client have a diagnosis to receive any help. This, in my opinion, has resulted in over-diagnosing and people ending up labeled based on life experiences. At this point in my career, the youngest client I’ve worked with has been in Pre-K and the oldest nearing the end of their days and I’ve seen that across the board whether working in a school or a hospital. It’s not ADHD if you can’t concentrate in class because you’re going to get your “ass beat” when you get home. It’s not depression when you’re grieving because the older you’ve gotten you’ve slowly seen your loved ones slip away. These are life experiences not diseases and they aren’t “fixed” by pills. I don’t mean to say that there aren’t mental health issues where diagnosis and medication are helpful. I’ve seen that as well. I do believe though that for many people, young or old, the help they need is in developing resilience, self-awareness and connection; all of which can be found in the development of creativity.

So for myself, I think I just answered my own question about how. We’ve got to get moving. We’ve got to be dancing. We’ve got to be drawing, singing, creating and connecting. These things help us release and express. They help us feel understood and supported. Some insurance companies have started to embrace preventative measures. They might cover your gym membership or your weight loss plan. Can we get there with mental health? We’ve got to be disrupting. What fortifies your resiliency, self-awareness and connection to others and the world? Is it your weekly dance class? Your book club? Knitting circle? Vegan meet-up? Connections to family and friends?

Let’s start a conversation. Creativity can be found everywhere, not just in a drawing or some other thing people tend to think of as “artistic.” Comment below on how creative activities have helped you develop resilience, self-awareness and connection. Thanks for reading!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in,

where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

John Muir

Currently reading and being inspired by:

The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

By Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor

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