Blog for the Health and Social Care Academy makes the case for emphasising humanity and a collective effort to encourage kindness.
A week into the national kindness challenge, Kinder Scotland 2017, I find myself writing chalk messages of appreciation on the pavement outside the building that houses the Scottish Recovery Consortium. In the heart of the merchant city in Glasgow people stop and stare and smile.
Kindness is something we all need more of; its that connection, acceptance and loving regard that is part of what helps all humans feel well, alive and that life is worthwhile. Bruce Alexander in his seminal work, “ The Globalisation of Addiction”, calls this experience psychosocial integration. We know our place in the world and in the hearts of our loved ones; we are part of a real community.
Dislocation is when these connections, environments and those secure places in the community are broken. This can happen through war, economic upheaval, loss of family and nation as well as other aspects of the unrelenting march of hyper capitalism, from the mass indoctrination into self-interest and greed being the only interest worthy of attention to the loss of support services that kept you from falling off the edge.
This dislocation, he says is at the heart of the spread of addictions in the world. We use substances and behaviours that we feel will soothe us and reconnect us quickly with a sense of well-being. As Johan Hari points out in “ chasing the scream” humans and animals take substances to alter their experience of emotional pain as well as physical pain. This is normal.
When the dislocation grows and gets more extreme some of us will turn to more substances, more shopping, more working, more video gaming, more overeating, more gambling, some of us will get very depressed, some will commit suicide.
The chronic health problems of the 21st century are resistant to public health strategies that focus exclusively on the individual as the source of the problem. Phil Hanlon, while he was Professor of Public Health at Glasgow University, called the problems of addiction, depression and obesity ‘diseases of modernity’, products of our market driven, highly materialist, individualized form of economy. He suggest that new forms of public health action are needed to stem the tide of pain.
At the SRC, we are all about the love, the human connection, the real community and so we have joined up with U lab Scotland and Carnegie Trust and surprising bodies like Visit Scotland to promote that spirit of Kindness, that will be part of helping us all heal. It’s not the only change we need but it’s a great contribution.
To celebrate the Kinder Scotland 2017 challenge, the SRC has made a PDF of its Scottish Recovery Workbook and is giving that away to anyone anywhere in the world that could use it to recover from addiction. It’s a gift from people in recovery in Scotland to people suffering from addiction anywhere in the world. Connected through kindness and our beautifully flawed humanity.