There’s no doubt that situational and environmental factors affect our mental health or that there are biological factors which lead to a person’s mental health disposition— the entire field of epigenetics proves this. But to outright say “don’t chemicalize, organize!” seems vastly reductive regarding mental health treatment.
I take many issues with the above opinion piece, but I am going to focus on the statement:
“there are two ways to change your reality: one is chemical, inward focused and short term that leaves your reality unchanged after a brief chemically induced hiatus. The other is social, outward focused and longer term and has a chance to change the outer reality.”
I take two issues with this statement — one is the implication that the half-life of a medication makes it a short-term solution. Insulin is no more a short-term solution to a type 1 diabetic than SSRIs are for depression. A common misconception is the thought that doctors are handing out medication like candy; but this is not how the medical process works. It is protocol to go through the patient’s individual and family medical history and also rule out the possibility of current situations being at fault for the patient’s mental state. If they are at fault, the person is recommended counselling, rather than medication.
The other is the implication that the social environment is a long-term solution. The social environment around us is constantly changing — university is only four years. Even if one is to change their social environment at university, it will only affect a person’s present mental state. We are constantly changing jobs, courses, roommates, houses, friends. All of this is to argue that our social state is not a long-term solution. Of course, there are exceptions such as leaving an abusive household, escaping from a destructive government, fighting against life-changing policies, but even still, no aspect of our social life is static.
I want to be clear — I am not arguing that our social situations do not affect our mental health. It is important we respond to our social situations in a way that benefits us and leads to positive mental health changes. But it is also important to understand that mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression — all have biological and chemical foundations that need to be treated. It is important we stop fear mongering against medication with misinformation, and instead look at it objectively, as one part of a vast set of treatment methods. Medication will work for some, and not for others.