Part 3 of the What Does This Have To Do With Wellness? series.
You might have noticed that my last two posts had a bit of what some might call a political twist. And you might be wondering, why would I talk about politics & social justice as a mental health and wellness writer?
It may seem to have come out of left field when I brought up things like capitalism when talking about self-care and personal wellness, or negative emotions and their relation to systems of oppression. But I believe the two are linked. I think there is an important overlap between social justice & politics, and wellness & mental health. Before you click off, hear me out.
What do Politics and Social Justice have to do with Wellness?
I know politics and social justice can be touchy subjects and many are just immediately turned off at their mention. I can understand that, they are topics that can cause a lot of conflict, they can feel inaccessible to us, something that we should just “leave to the experts”, or maybe even something we don’t think we have the power to change. Because of this we might be tempted to turn away or ignore politics, even think they aren’t that important.
But, on some level, everything is political. This is true in the sense that political decisions and structures control how our world and daily lives function. Education, healthcare, mental health care, wages & job prospects, and more, are all impacted by politics.
I sincerely believe if we want lifelong sustainable wellness and mental health for ourselves and our loved ones, we need to get at the roots of what causes us to be unwell in the first place. And I think many of the causes lie in how our society and lives are made up, and that includes social justice and political issues.
As we know, there are many different causes and triggers for mental health problems and these include those related to various social justice and political issues. Some contributing factors can include: trauma related to discrimination and inequality (gender based, racial or ethnic, sexual orientation, disability etc.), stress related to poverty and limited economic opportunity, lack of education and awareness of mental health, and limited access to health care. Even unaddressed worry and anxiety surrounding the looming climate crisis and global warming can negatively impact our wellbeing. And there are certainly many more that I have not included.
So, politics and social justice are relevant to wellness because they are a big part of preventing, addressing, and finding solutions to our mental health. Politics and social justice provide us the keys to access the tools we need to feel better. These could include: better education (mental health, sexuality, discrimination etc.), free quality physical and mental health care, eliminating abject poverty, and recognizing and protecting people from the many different forms of discrimination that exist in our society. Or, these systems can create barriers and contribute to prejudices that directly negatively impact the wellbeing of individuals and therefore our society as a whole.
Why I write about them.
But, why do I write about social justice and politics? Things like capitalism, inequality, colonialism etc. I don’t do it for the attention or to cause unnecessary controversy.
I think it is important that I use my platform to raise awareness to important issues and to amplify the voices of people and groups trying to fight inequality and injustice. I want to do my part in contributing to a better world and many people, including my readers, are impacted by these issues. I want to whenever I can bring attention to important issues as they relate to my content.
But I also promote awareness about social justice issues and political issues because I think it is very relevant to my content. I write about mental health, wellness, and trying to live a fulfilled life. In order to be well, have good mental health, and live life fully, I believe your life as a whole has to work for you. Your whole life includes a lot of issues related to social justice and politics.
I also want to say, I won’t always be perfect in how I talk about the many social issues that exist. I do my best to speak carefully and be educated, but if I write something that you feel is offensive or maybe just not quite right, please let me know. I am always open to discussion, correcting myself, and learning more. These issues usually involve lifelong journeys of continual learning to overcome.
If you want to read more of my social justice blogs you can check out:
Canada Day: My Complicated Relationship with My Native Land
Black Lives Matter
So, even if I am not using overtly political language, there is an underlying political and social justice underpinning to many aspects of wellness. We cannot hope to move forward in a real way with our mental health without acknowledging their significance. I don’t think I would be contributing much to this community if I wasn’t honest about that or willing to call it out.
We can’t turn away from these things even if they feel intimidating or complicated. We need to talk about them. Not endlessly or all of the time, and not always in a partisan framework, but we do ourselves a disservice if we pretend that politics and social justice have nothing to do with our mental health and physical wellness.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.