"Whoever saves the life of a person is as if he has saved the life of the whole of humankind"

Family supporting

As expected lockdown is taking a toll on people's mental health.

Currently we have a mental health crisis. Many people would agree that it is a consequence of societal breakdown, generational differences and isolation. So far, many of the approaches have been directed at people individually.
However, most people don’t thrive in isolation – they need multiple networks. In recent times these networks have tended to become virtual whilst people increasingly become alienated from those around them. Add into the mix temptations such as alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism for past traumas and we have the perfect storm.

My Inspiration

As a doctor I am often inspired by medical situations or solutions and see applications in other non medical areas.
One example of this is the domino kidney transplant – here a number of patients who are needing kidney transplants but for whom their relative is not a match receive a directed donation from a stranger. That stranger has their own relative in need of a kidney for whom they are not a match. The strangers relative receives a donation from another stranger who also has a relative in need and… well you get the idea! In the end there may be 10 donors each of whom have a relative in need of a kidney but for whom they are not a match themselves but someone else in the group will be. Kidney transplants are themselves fraught with issues – it is not a lifelong guarantee and there remains a risk of rejection etc
but this pooling of resources is a better option than muddling along for years on dialysis.

How it would work?

Families who have a relative that is struggling with their mental health will often have a lot of experience but the shared history between the individual and their family means that there is a barrier to effective communication and progress.
The idea of Family Network is to take the experience that a family has gained, give them a little more confidence and guidance in handling situations and then assign them to another individual whilst their own relative is assigned another family.

Help for the individual

Provide mentoring/coaching
Regular contact to overcome isolation
Encourage and support in attending appointments
Practical help in finding a job/hobbies/voluntary work or continuing in education

Help for the families

Contact during crisis points
Regular contact
Confidential support
Help set and monitor healthy boundaries
Training sessions

“Helping people better manage their upsetting feelings—anger, anxiety, depression, pessimism, resentment, and loneliness—is a form of disease prevention.

Since the data show that the toxicity of these emotions, when chronic, is on a par with smoking cigarettes, helping people handle them better could potentially have a medical payoff as great as getting heavy smokers to quit.”

― Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

Al Balki

In the 9th century, the physician al-Balkhi recognised that the balance between body and soul is necessary to enjoy good health, while an imbalance between the two can cause illness. He also introduced the concepts of mental health and the use of cognitive therapy to treat anxiety and depression.

AbuZaydal-Balkhi   You can read the translation