Good mental health means more than the absence of mental disorders. It’s about experiencing joy and mastering through participation in society. Through working life, studies, in friendship and family. It’s about an experience of master life’s tasks and challenges.
Mental ill health can be described as striving to experience happiness and mastering in daily life, which is a major health and social challenge (Directorate of Health, 2014). This can be experienced as painful for each individual, while it has major economic and occasionally violent consequences for society (Borgen and Stenhaug, 2017).
We who work with ConsciousnessTraining have as a major goal to promote good health and quality of life for all humans. Our philosophy is that when each individual meets his basic needs, as well as being given the opportunity to follow his dreams, we will create a society that will make room for everyone. This means that we think smarter and more efficiently in cooperation with others, so that we find better and more sustainable solutions for society.
Norway has a population of about 5 million (2013) and the total costs due to illness and accidents were estimated to amount to approximately NOK 1,860 billion in the same year (2013). Included is amongst other lost years of life and loss of quality of life. Healthcare costs are estimated at NOK 274 billion, and production loss (loss of tax revenues) is estimated at NOK 186 billion (Directorate of Health, 2013). Mental disorders are the diseases that cost society the most money, and is estimated at 185 billion a year (Holte, 2016).
Mental disorders are also an important reason for dropout in upper secondary education (between every fourth and fifth student who do not complete secondary education), which also costs society billions. In addition, we spend billions to prevent dropouts (Falch, Johannesen and Strøm, 2009). Currently, we spend money on initatives that give minimal impact (although we have started to see a slight positive development now) (Government, 2017) and as such, is even more money lost. Dropout is of major importance to health and quality of life in terms of increased risk of unemployment, crime and ill health (Falch, Joannesen and Strøm, 2009).
Such overviews are relatively stable from year to year and will therefore provide an overview to if we are moving in the right direction when we work to promote good physical and mental health in society (Directorate of Health, 2013).
There is a lot we can do to save society of these costs. One thing is to create good treatment options that work for those who have become ill. But as Holte (2016) refers to, the most important thing we can do is to put initiative into action before we get sick. And then we must put in place initiatives that promote mental capital in the population. Without mental capital, other capital is of little value. And with mental capital, he believes our ability to regulate emotions, use logic and creativity, coordinate our behaviour in meeting with others, as well as meet social challenges and conflicts in a good way.
Two research projects have been carried out on ConsciousnessTraining, which show that this brain training promotes mental capital (Velikova, Sjaaheim and Nordtug, 2017; Velikova and Nordtug, 2018). The research was done on healthy people, but included in the studies were participants who were close to developing depression. The research on ConsciousnessTraining shows that those who were close to developing depression benefited greatly from the course. After a course, 12 weeks with home training and a repetition of the course, the depressive symptoms were gone for all participants.
Both those with depressive symptoms and the healthy ones evaluated themselves as more satisfied with life and more effective after the courses. The research also showed that the training gives increased ability to regulate emotions, as well as using logic, intuition and creativity to solve tasks and challenges. At the same time, non-verbal resonance increases, which is an indicator of general intelligence (ibid).
Promoting smart thinking is important in a time of many big tasks and challenges. Considering how many people struggle with anxiety and depression, effective preventive initiatives against these disorders can save society at high costs (Holte, 2016). When we are not depressed, it is also easier to think smart. Therefore, there is a great economic and ” intellectually” gain in preventing depressive symptoms before developing into depression, as is done with ConsciousnessTraining (Velikova and Nordtug, 2018).
ConsciousnessTraining is what researchers call “self-guided”. This means that after the course, the participants have techniques that can be used to handle small and big tasks and challenges in daily life. The techniques can, among other things, be used to work with personal goals, handle and regulate emotions that are behind negative experiences, or to get better relationships with other people. They can be used at home in their own living room, without the need for guidance. Velikova and Nordtug (2017) draw a familiar example of experiencing irritation over a colleague. The techniques can be used to change feelings related to irritation over a colleague, so that you go from a state characterized by irritation and dissatisfaction to more calm, focus and concentration. In other words, it is a promising tool for promoting ability to change, solve problems and cooperate in society. The challenge is to put in place initiative where the initiatives give the best effect.
A number of studies show that it is best to put initiatives in place in the places where people normally go to (Directorate of health, 2014; Holte, 2016). It is also agreed that social support, mastering experiences and an experience of managing daily tasks and challenges promote good mental health and quality of life (Directorate of Health, 2014). Therefore, it is an important point to facilitate that people experience social support and mastering in kindergartens, schools, places of study, working life and family life.
There are many risk factors for developing mental disorders, exclusion and isolation. Some of them are difficulties at school, bullying, family relationships, ill-treatment, abuse, poverty. Holte (2016) shows that kindergartens and schools are our main areas for introducing initiatives before illnesses occur.
One of the reasons why kindergartens and schools are so important is because this is a unique area for giving people what they need to develop good health; namely social support, mastering experiences, and strategies for managing life’s tasks and challenges. Kindergartens and schools are particularly important for those who are at risk of falling out of society in different ways. Today we know that early childhood experiences are of great importance for what direction life takes (Getz, Kirkengen and Ulvestad, 2011). Recent knowledge from a variety of disciplines and fields of expertise shows that our brain and entire nervous system is shaped by experience, and that tough childhood experiences put the brain in survival mode. A brain in survival mode sends stress signals to the rest of the body, which in turn affects the immune system and our physical health. In addition a brain in survival mode will have greater difficulty in regulating emotions and behaviours (Nordanger and Braarud, 2014), which poses greater risk for social exclusion (Getz et al, 2011).
There are two initiatives that are particularly effective in putting in kindergarten and school. One is to strengthen the interaction skills of adults, as the quality of interaction between adults and children is the single most important factor for children and young people’s learning and development (Skaalvik and Federici, 2013: Drugli and Nordahl, 2014:). The second is to teach children and young people the connection between feelings, thoughts and actions, as well as provide training in handling life’s tasks and challenges (Holte, 2016).
Our focus is primarily on adults’ attitudes and ways of meeting children and adolescents. Then the focus is on giving children and young people “knowledge of life” and techniques for managing life’s tasks and challenges. Once we have that focus, in the order mentioned, it will promote a good psychosocial environment, characterized by good relationships, cooperation and comprehensive thinking.
Good interaction skills are about being able to meet parents, co-workers, children and youth in a good way. This requires good understanding of other people’s feelings and different social situations (Skaalvik and Federici, 2013). Research done on ConsciousnessTraining shows that this understanding is better after course (Velikova and Nordtug, 2018). Good interaction skills are also about knowing what must be done when no theory or methodology provides clear answers. Research done on ConsciousnessTraining also shows that we strengthen our intuition, creativity, alertness and empathy (Velikova and Nordtug, 2018). Resources that make it easier for us to improvise good solutions in the unique practice situation at any time, so that we can facilitate social support and good mastering experiences.
It is also important to mention that self-regulation is the very foundation of learning, an ability that also has a significant impact on how well one is doing in life. Both in terms of education, economics, risk of crime and the development of health problems. But self-regulation is not something that comes by itself. Children learn self-regulation of adults who are good at it themselves (Storksen, i.d). A main conclusion in the research done on ConsciousnessTraining is that the training strengthens our ability to self-regulation (Velikova and Nordtug, 2018).
Being able to regulate emotions, work structured and concentrated, and create safe social connections are identified as the most important thing we can do to promote good mental health and mastering of life for children and adolescents. An intervention that meets these requirements is sought of and research shows that ConsciousnessTraining does (Velikova et al., 2017: Velikova and Nordtug, 2018).
Anxiety and depression are among the most common causes of sick leave. This is painful for the individual, while having major financial consequences for society (Folkehelseinstituttet, 2012). Preventing anxiety and depression before it develops into illness and absence can therefore give great savings to the workplace and to society. As mentioned, research shows that ConsciousnessTraining is a promising tool for doing this (Velikova and Northern Ireland, 2018).
ConsciousnessTraining is important for managing small and big tasks and challenges of daily life. For example, when we are going to work towards achieving our goals, or we are getting annoyed by a colleague in the workplace. The fact that the participants have two techniques that can be customized for use to the situation they are in without guidance mean that ConsciousnessTraining is considered beneficial to enhance cooperation and efficiency at the workplace (Jensen, 2017).
Brain health and health services
Brain health is a relatively new term in Norway. Brain health is about the state of health related to functions, diseases, injuries and conditions in the brain. These may include Alzheimer, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficit and behavioural disorders – simply everything that is going on in the head (Health and Care Services, 2017).
A common denominator for brain diseases is that they cause loss in cognitive functions and can cause changes in personality. The health services lack competence in psychosocial and cognitive rehabilitation after illness (ibid). Regarding the latter (enhancing cognitive functions), ConsciousnessTraining is considered as a promising tool in treatment of brain diseases when integrated as part of the treatment plan (Velikova and Nordtug, 2018).
In a time of major challenges related to the environment, globalization and cooperation between people of different cultures, ethnicity and geographical affiliation, it is vital that we develop what Holte (2016) describes as mental capital. One challenge is that so many at the same time struggle with mental disorders, as this leads to reduced capacity to think smart. Alone and in cooperation with others.
We in Unique Mind ESP are therefore committed to promoting good mental health and quality of life in society.
Our focus is:
– Integrating ConsciousnessTraining in kindergarten, school and higher education. We want to cooperate with research and the field of practice of increased understanding of how we can work goal-oriented with mental health and mastering of life in these areas.
– That ConsciousnessTraining contributes to reducing sickness absence, as well as the training integrated into the workplace, is part of the work to promote smart thinking in society.
– That ConsciousnessTraining is part of long-term strategies to prevent brain diseases, exclusion and isolation in society.
– To cooperate with research and field of practice to create effective treatment services within the health services (brain disorders, substance abuse and psychiatry).
Briefly summarized, we can say that when enough people use more intuition, creativity, logic and self-regulation to improve their relationships with other people, and find better solutions in cooperation with others, we will create a sustainable society that will make room for everyone.