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Dr Keith Gaynor’s comments about mental wellbeing, based on his new book, “Protecting Mental Health”, place welcome emphasis on humans as social beings, living in communities, families and societies (Irish Examiner, 26 January).
Human cognition and behaviour are so deeply socialised it is arguably nonsensical to consider any human being in isolation. We are deeply networked with others, and the human brain is so incredibly complex and inter-connected,our lives and wellbeing can only be considered in social contexts.
Improved mental health and wellbeing can be advanced by conscious effort, and Dr Gaynor’s suggestions are achievable and effective. His points about engaging and re-engaging with the world, meditating, exercising and volunteering are especially relevant, as new technologies present both enormous opportunity for social connection and enormous risk of atomisation and isolation.
Conscious strategies to promote mental health can, ultimately, help us reach a point of absorption in activity from which happiness flows.
Benjamin Disraeli wrote, in 1870, ‘action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.’
Professor of Psychiatry
Trinity College Dublin
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