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New Policy on Discussions of Politics

I've got to be honest with you - I don't really like politics anyways. Governance, I like governance. I believe in good governance. But I don't believe in good politics - in fact, I don't even think there is such a thing as good politics. Politics can certainly be bad or stupid or destructive, but almost never good. Diplomacy can be good. Governance can be good. Politics can at best strive not to be bad, stupid, and destructive; it can't ever be good.

Yet, sometimes I'll see a discussion on some outpost of the internet that I visit, and then I might be tempted to jump in. From now on, new policy - no trying to persuade anyone of my politics. Instead, I'll look to share some historical background or references I've read or learned about that I find valuable, and let people mostly draw their own conclusions. Maybe I'll share my own views if I've already given a number of relevant examples.

But no more just trying to convince someone their politics are mistaken - it doesn't work, and besides, I don't like politics anyways. I should talk governance with people with historical examples, not politics. Governance is good. That's something I can get behind, good governance. Politics, not so much.

Talk about the taboo: inspired by Sri Lanka

On Talking about the taboo

Recently, I spent 5 wonderful weeks volunteering in psychiatric hospitals, special needs homes and schools in beautiful Sri Lanka. There, the importance of talking about mental illness was instilled in me once more.

It would be easy to focus on the under-resourced and thus sometimes heart-breaking aspects of mental health in Sri Lanka – that there is only one psychiatrist per 120,000 people, the almost sole reliance on drug therapy and the institutionalisation that stands in the way of effective treatment. However, - such a rant is futile. Instead, I focus on what the UK can learn from them.

In stark contrast to the West, confidentiality has no real meaning or place in Sri Lanka, which I assume is a by-product of their collectivist culture. The (few, but crucial) mental health community clinics operate in front of waiting patients – each of whom will talk to the Doctor about their trials and progress. When thirty other placement students and I shadowed their psychiatrist, and thus observed appointments and even home visits - they were generally unphased. I believe that this is a positive thing – because, even in a country where stigma is so potent, mental health is being spoken about freely to some degree.

By no means am I saying that UK mental health practices should suddenly set up audiences to appointments or abandon confidentiality. The presence of cross-cultural differences has been drilled in to me since A-level Psychology, and to transcend them is not necessarily functional, desirable or even possible. We are an inherently individualistic culture and privacy is important to our sense of well-being.

However, I do believe that such practices can inspire more subtle and positive changes in the way that we - the general public- perceive and converse about mental health: To talk about it. To talk about it without hesitance, hushed tones or shame.

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