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The New Mental Health: The Latest Approaches to Well-Being

Integrative methods to mental wellness are gaining in popularity and evidence.

Key points

  • Mental health is not only what you think. It's also what you eat and how you move. It's your whole body.
  • Facing mental health challenges is normal, or at least pretty common.
  • This new understanding of the multifactorial nature of mental health means that elevating mental health is more possible than we ever imagined.

We’ve all heard that we are in a mental health crisis. But what you may not have heard is that we are also at the beginning of a mental health renaissance. A massive breakthrough in how we view psychological well-being is underway. Our methods of cultivating mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are rapidly expanding.

A renaissance is a period of time when people wake up. They start to do things and see things in completely different ways. The culture transforms. New inventions permeate society, and everything changes until it’s hard to remember that it used to be any other way. This is what’s happening with mental health.

Here’s what we are learning about the new mental health:

Mental Health Challenges Are Common

We used to think that psychological well-being was the norm. That if you were “normal” then you would be fine, and if you were “abnormal” you might have (often said in a whisper) “a problem.” That a few poor souls, unfortunately, had mental health issues or disorders, and if they were able to be helped they might return to “normal.”


  • One in four people meet the criteria for a mental health disorder in any given year.
  • That doesn’t count everyone who experiences mental health symptoms.
  • A substantial proportion of us will experience some level of mental health symptoms at one time or another.
  • Nearly every one of us will have a friend or family member who experiences mental health symptoms or disorders.
  • That means nearly everyone reading this either has, or knows someone who’s faced, depression, abuse, substance dependence, bipolar mood, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other conditions.

Facing mental health challenges is normal, or at least pretty common. The sooner we begin to recognize this, the easier it will be for people to talk about it, and the more likely we can all agree to cultivate mental well-being practices from an early age and intervene early when mental health symptoms begin.

It’s Not What You Think

Or, it is not only what you think. Mental health is not just in our heads.

It is in our whole bodies. A growing body of research indicates that our hormones, our glucose levels, our gut, our energy, and our spiritualityall affect our mental well-being. For example, studies show that a healthy microbiome (particularly the gut microbiota or the types of bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract) is related to anxiety and depression, and that probiotics have effectively mitigated anxiety and depressive symptoms similar to conventional prescription medications.

And, mental health is not just limited to our insides—it relies on our outsides as well: our relationships, surroundings, communities, environments, and society. It is impacted by power, privilege, culture, racism, sexism, and other -isms. In short, mental health is not just in your head, it’s everywhere.

If this is the case, it simply doesn’t make sense to focus our treatments on a single person, and only above their neck. It’s time to move from a sole focus on the brain and mind to whole-person (and whole-community) approaches to treating mental disorders and promoting mental well-being.

The Good News

This new understanding of the multifactorial (many factors) nature of mental health means that elevating mental health is more possible than we ever imagined. Tons of evidence-based approaches are making their way into use. The mental health benefits of psilocybin, for example, have been researched in recent times. In one study, subjects with depression were given psilocybin and they reported less neuroticism, more openness, and more positivity overall.

If you’ve ever dealt with your own or loved ones’ mental health challenges, you know it can feel impossible, like banging our heads against the same wall over and over again. The new mental health gives us a reason for hope, and not just hope, but actual evidence-based pathways toward greater mental well-being. Emerging mental health treatments and well-being practices include therapies that involve ketamine, transcranial magnetic stimulation, trauma recovery and posttraumatic growth, exercise, nutrition, and mind–body practices, among others.

Source: Wisdom for Life
Mental Health Summit
Source: Wisdom for Life


See this TEDx talk on the topic.

The Mental Health and Well-Being Global Summit: An upcoming online summit is being hosted by the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation and Wisdom for Life. Speakers include Deepak Chopra, Tara Brach, Andrew Weil, and Sharon Salzberg.

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