Redefining Mental Health in a Modern World
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Being alive during what many consider a pivotal moment in human history is a privilege for all of us. Our world is changing rapidly, with modern models giving way to traditional healing practices, particularly in the world of mental health.
👋 Hi everyone, allow me to introduce myself. I am Ross McKenzie, and for the past 36 years, I have been passionately exploring the intricate connections between the mind, body, and spirit, especially in the context of mental well-being. This journey of mine all began at the age of 16 and has led me to become a somatic-relational psychology facilitator and a mental health coach—a profession I’ve been fully dedicated to since 2015.
You may be curious about somatic-relational psychology and how I entered the field of mental health. It all began in my teens, in 1993 to be exact, when I received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and was quickly prescribed a cocktail of potent psychotropic drugs, including lithium carbonate, which had harmful effects on my heart, body, and spirit. The modern mental health system attacked my symptoms rather than taking the time to truly help me understand the underlying causes of my mental health issues.
“Children need to be conscious that there is something more before being hijacked by chemical poisoning.” – Sadguru
Shortly thereafter, in my early 20s, I endured a near-death experience that triggered what could be characterized as a manic episode, resulting in my being forcibly restrained in a straight jacket and confined to a white padded room—an inhuman experience that horrified and mortified me. I was so disturbed and shaken that I had no other choice than to transform this dark and demoralizing experience into a positive one.
My personal transformation began as I recognized the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit through my own journey. I’ve since come to realize that depending on powerful psychotropic drugs for a lifetime presents a much more significant health risk and challenge than occasional human symptoms—that is, for me, anyway.
After successfully detoxing from lithium in 2010, I embarked on writing a documentary film script in 2011 based on my experience with the modern mental health system. Shortly thereafter, I received a TV broadcasting contract from Shaw Media to co-produce the film titled Bipolarized. This feature-length documentary showcased my self-directed journey from psychotropic drug dependence towards a free and fulfilling life.
In November 2014, Bipolarized aired nationwide on Canadian National Television and was also screened at numerous film festivals and university classrooms worldwide. Even today, it continues to be screened in universities and colleges, maintaining its relevance in the mental health field. The award-winning film has received widespread acclaim, resonating with audiences in the era of mental health awakening and transformation. Its messages remain as relevant today as they were a decade ago upon its global release.
When I finished the film tour of Bipolarized back in 2015, I was thrilled to be offered a mental health coach position at Helix Healthcare Group, a mental health and addiction clinic that had opened in Toronto, Canada. After completing healing training, along with harnessing the mental health tools I had gathered over the previous 25 years, the time had come to offer my mental health coaching services to others. Now, not only was I a professional in the field, but I was someone with lived experience who comprehends the many mental health challenges we all face.
“If you name me, you negate me. By giving me a name, a label, you negate all the other things I could possibly be.” – Soren Kierkegaard
Remarkably, what I witnessed in others mirrored my own experience, and surprisingly, my instincts were repeatedly validated. Far too often, instead of being empowered by addressing the tough truths of the root causes to our superficial symptoms, people often find themselves disempowered by labeling, and their perceptions disoriented by powerful psychotropic drugs.
My purpose had been identified, and the dharma of my life had begun
According to MDs Dr. Peter Breggin and Dr. Charles Whitfield, drugs like lithium are causing more harm than good to the individual and society as a whole. Millions upon millions of people around the world continue to be quickly labeled and prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs. Given my personal experience with the modern mental health system from 1993 to 2010, I firmly believe they are right.
Achieving mental well-being is not a fixed destination but rather an ongoing, fluid process that involves incorporating healthy practices to maintain a balanced life. So, how can we collectively dive deeper and take personal responsibility for our own self-care?
“Seeking with truth. Practicing compassion. That is the way that life becomes meaningful.” – Bardo Thodol
Based on my experience, here are a few promising healing tools and strategies that have not only benefited me, but have also consistently yielded positive results with my clients:
- Relational Somatic Psychology (Shadow Work): This healing tool, which I’ve personally used for years, both individually and with clients, necessitates courage to confront our shadows and promote self-regulation of the nervous system. The act of facing our shadows contributes to nervous system regulation, simplifying the healing process and aiding in the dissolution of anxiety and stress as we unpack trauma.
- Nature Therapy and Connection: Crucial for mental well-being, nature therapy provides valuable solutions to numerous mental health challenges by harnessing the inherent therapeutic benefits of natural environments; whether in a bustling city or by the serene ocean, establishing a daily connection with nature is highly recommended to enhance mental health.
- Prayer and Meditation (Maps of Intent): With sincere and clear intent, I have found that these are the most powerful daily tools for enhancing mental health, at least in my experience. This practice consistently yields positive outcomes by connecting to the divine, whether you call it God, Buddha, The Force, Source, United Field, or any other name, providing a sense of purpose and well-being. Concerningly, it seems as if the wisdom attained through meditation and prayer has been forgotten by many in the face of psychopharmacology, yet it holds boundless potential for us all.
In conclusion, my hope is that you, the reader, resonate with my past experience, and are able to integrate these healing tools and strategies to support your mental health. Please feel free to reach out and share your mental health story, thoughts and feedback with me and the team.
When I was given the opportunity to contribute at MentalHealth.com, I’ll admit I had reservations. However, after getting to know the compassionate team at MentalHealth.com and CEO, Daniel Rivette, I was not only convinced but came to realize that this is the organization positioned to genuinely transform the potential of technology, as we currently perceive it, for global well-being.
And so I will end my first blog post with my personal daily meditation and prayer:
I am of the Unified Field
I ground myself to the earth
I command you, Unified Field, to create harmony and balance for all humans on earth
May you direct us all to our highest life purpose and help us fulfill this purpose swiftly, effectively, and for the good of all concerned
I ask you to infuse each and every soul on this planet with wisdom, discernment, compassion, unconditional love, strength, detachment, grace, energy, and inspiration that is needed to fulfill this job
I thank you Unified Field and I send you my unconditional love
So be it
MentalHealth.com is a health technology company guiding people towards self-understanding and connection. The platform offers reliable resources, accessible services, and nurturing communities. Its mission involves educating, supporting, and empowering people in their pursuit of well-being.
Ross Mckenzie is a dedicated mental health advocate, life coach, speaker, and film producer. Known for his documentary "Bipolarized," he actively contributes to MentalHealth.com. Since January 2015, he has owned and operated Casa Maracuya retreat in Costa Rica, helping clients enhance their mental wellness.