Mental Health Is A Dimmer, Not An On/Off Switch

The other day I was talking w a school principal, about how the “1 in 5” message separates us, how it’s really “5 in 5” of us that mental health impacts to varying degrees, how we all live on a continuum, & how looking at things in binary ways just separate us further.

If you’ve been following for a while, you know I share how my mind thinks more clearly in pictures, than it does anything else. That’s why I’m so thrilled this principal shared his own “picture” w me – represented on this first slide (I tried to do his concept some justice).

He said: “Eric, what you’re describing is the difference between a light switch that only has on & an off capabilities, & a dimmer which can glide up & down, providing varying levels of light & dark. That got me excited (yes the dorkiest things get me excited).

While we have the #SameHere Scale that helps better illustrate the continuum for students, now being implemented in schools all over…this on/off switch concept vs the dimmer concept, helps clearly explain how the fluid nature of the “Scale” compares to the more binary concept of there being a “sick” group & a “healthy” group.

Let’s be fair, the DSM-5 is but a way to put definitive lines around concepts where there are no clear, absolute lines.

You can’t take a blood test for OCD the way you can count cell counts to determine if you have cancer. You can’t test “levels” for depression the way you can glucose levels in your body when it comes to diabetes.

I know we need something to use for insurance & even trying to throw the right dart at the right dart board for some forms of treatments we use…but from a societal perspective in terms of perception, we are WAY better off being represented as ONE big group that slides up and down dimmers, than as folks who fit in two very unique buckets of either “on “or “off.”

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