May is a mental health awareness month under the theme ‘loneliness’. A number of mental disorders start with a state of loneliness that builds up other mental problems such as anxiety, low self esteem, depression, increased levels of stress and loss of sleep.
On the Groove Cafe today with Crystal Newman, clinical psychologist Leona Tura Buhenzire said that it is important that loneliness is the subject of the year’s mental health theme because it has provided a different view, one that focuses on the cause rather than the consequence.
“I think mental health has been so much focused on mental illness, that the cracks, causes and background of mental illness is not focused on which defeats the purpose. Say we focus on Schizophrenia, bipolar, that's focusing on the consequence rather than the cause. And back to the basics, one of the causes of these disorders is loneliness,” she said.
She went on to explain that during childhood, a child may be ridiculed for expressing their real personality. For instance, when they are stubborn or talkative and then the person grows to be disconnected from themselves that can't let them connect with others hence loneliness that is worsened by social media.
“Loneliness is one of the current causes of a public health crisis because people are lost in social media. People are on the internet, radio and they think that they are actually in touch with their families or friends when they are not. This is not on the foundation that loneliness is not the lack of humans around you but a lack of connection with people,” Leona said.
She therefore disregarded the notion that some people hold on to being self sufficiency and needing no validation saying that people are social beings who live in consequent interaction with others.
“It's ignorant to think that you can be self-sufficient, you cannot be. You need community, connection even just for your neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to adapt to change) because brains are wired for familiarity to protect you. Whatever is familiar, the brain perceives it as safe. That's why some people stay in toxic situations because the brain is used to that. And that's why neuroplasticity is important,” she said.
She therefore advised that, you can deal with loneliness through interaction with family, friends, meeting new people, finding out your hobbies and exercising them.
But she added that, “that’s a surface way to deal with the connection issue but a much better way to do it is to establish and grow a better relationship with yourself. Connect with yourself because most of us are dissociated from ourselves. Navigating a better relationship with yourself helps to bring your body and mind back together and you will have a better relationship with yourself, then you could be living with the dead of Kosovo and you won't have trouble connecting with others,” she concluded.
The Groove Cafe with Crystal Newman airs every Weekday from 4-5pm on RX Radio.
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