Where are the Mind Gyms?

So are we a more healthier nation than we were 70 years ago? The 1950s were certainly full of unhealthy habits and messages. We all cooked our bacon, chips and arteries in lard whilst our Doctor’s took part in advertising the glorious health benefits of smoking 20-a-day. We consumed an unvaried diet of meat and two veg and made few connections between our lifestyles and heart disease. We are now, undoubtedly, more knowledgeable about the nutritional value of foods and exercise. We now have choice – the choice to eat organic, to eat multicultural and to eat a range of healthy alternatives. We now consume more fruit and vegetables than we did 70 years ago and frequently access our gyms for weight-training, spin cycle or Zumba.

But does this make us healthier? Changes in technology allow us to work longer hours and maintain our stress levels 24/7. This has led to a rise in convenience food and ‘on the go eating.’ We have the option of 100 burger bars in a 5 mile radius which in the 1950s were still in their infancy. We have microwaves that can zap food rather than prepare with due consideration. We have the option to binge on food as it is made in its abundance in mega-supermarkets; in the 1950s we simply did not have this facility. Food manufacturers compete with each other to create the unhealthiest but tastiest treats knowing that our sugar addicted nation will always choose the sweeter option. Food production spirals, stress levels mount and obesity rises – even the gyms, offering solutions become corporate and profit driven.  

So are we healthier now or then? Healthier or not, we are certainly more educated on our physical health. If we weren’t, we cannot account for the abundance of healthy alternatives available to us.

So is mental health the next revolution? It would seem that it is very much in the psyche of contemporary society. On the 31st July 2017 the Government announced plans for an investment of 21,000 more mental health workers to be recruited over the next five years. This was a development that can be seen foreshadowed by David Cameron in his bid to give £247 million to place mental health services in every hospital emergency department in February 2016.

It saddened me, in a recent day in clinic, that I had 3 new clients come to see my exhibiting high levels of anxiety and each one told me that had been put on a waiting list by the NHS which could take up to a year. One client was even offered ‘CBT via chatroom’ which seemed to me to rank as one of the more impersonal and box ticking solutions. Hypnotherapy gets such great results in supporting anxiety and depression and, in a way, I am glad it is not part of the NHS’s arsenal as it means we can be there to support people when they need it without the queues or frustration.

So perhaps it is now time for the mind gym. A similar monthly paid membership but instead of treadmills and weight benches there would be therapists and healers. Instead of personal trainers we would have life coaches and instead of a protein shake bar we would have a meditation room.

In the 1950’s a gym to maintain our physical fitness was unheard of. Now we look back more enlightened. Maybe by 2050 we will be similarly enlightened about our mental fitness and look back at this decade as the one which shifted our focus to this important aspect of wellbeing.

A gym for the mind is certainly a dream of mine.