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Unlearning Labels

From Lea S. Denny's LinkedIn account, this was originally posted there on June 11, 2023.

Image from Beth Tyson on LinkedIn, posted in June 2023.

Absolutely! A healing-informed and health justice centered approach to mental health and well-being starts with how we describe and define responses (sensory, processing, thinking) to traumatic experiences + stressors. Drop the disorder means end pathologizing normal responses to abnormal (harmful) stressors & traumas experiences.

Consider the functioning that disrupts someone’s livingness and what barriers to health are present and preventing them from feeling better.

There are, of course, more pervasive symptoms and developmental needs that for some people will last a lifetime, and will require longer periods of help, resources, and clinical care across their life AND statically speaking, this is a smaller group within our total population that truly need this level of intensive care.

The antidote to stronger individual mental health is investing in the community health outcomes that one lives within. That is, we are all healthier with a healthy system, and if that system is plagued with historical & racial trauma, is chronically oppressed and underinvested, then you regularly having to assess for threats in your day to day livingness.

At HIR Wellness Institute, we have built an approach to care that focuses on just this. It’s a new approach to mental health that centers relational health, intergenerational healing, healing-informed and health justice.

The concept of disorders are outdated. We now know that there are different neurodivergent brain types that require different learning and developmental needs. We know that the genetic + epigenetic imprint of historical trauma can start before conception, that intrauterine, perinatal, infancy, and early childhood years are more critical to setting a health foundation for human development than is later years. We know that resilience has nothing to do with “pulling yourself up from your bootstraps” and more to do with ones biological, psychological, physiological, social, cultural, spiritual, and developmental experiences.

We know that we develop through a complex scaffolding that takes in all the messages of our environments to inform what we need to survive or thrive in such environment.

We know our sensory system is a good predictor of our stress and calm states. Which means our brains will respond to stress based on our sensory system that quickly informs our higher regions that allow for our capacity to access readily (or not) our executive functioning, decision making, and processing skills.

Current DSM diagnostics are poorly defined, lack empirical evidence, lack culturally responsiveness, and are oversimplified diagnoses. We know better. Let’s do better through compassionate practices.

With over 20 years of experience in mental health, I have been ready for some time to join trauma-informed movement to dropping the labels and redefining what it means to discern and differentiate the real needs of those seeking relief from what they are walking with.

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