There is much talk about changing the way we do health-care. There is much talk about the costs of health-care. There is much talk about the financial burden of specific kinds of health conditions. There is much talk about how people need to take responsibility for their own health. There is much talk about how lifestyle has caused and contributed to chronic health diseases. There is much talk about health prevention. But, there is relatively little talk about compassionately empowering people to better take care of themselves without shaming and blaming. A culture of shame and stigma has prevailed, and a chronic health disease epidemic is on the rise.
Any kind of change requires a change of mind. It’s a difficult challenge to try to change everyone’s mind, yet alone, our own. Instead of trying to change everyone’s mind, why not just approach everything with greater care and compassion. Put care and compassion at the forefront of health-care, and the end result will be cost-effective and health-enhancing for everyone. If compassion is the remedy to suffering, then it needs to be the foundation and the core of any health-care system. Compassion is the genuine expression of care and concern for others in order to alleviate their suffering. Compassion costs nothing, but lack of compassion causes suffering.
Millions of people are suffering from chronic health conditions. Just look at the health statistics in the United States alone. As of 2012, half of all adults have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and arthritis; more than 25 million adults reported having pain every day; approximately 5.3 million are living with a traumatic brain injury; 40 million adults have an anxiety disorder; approximately 15 million adults have a major depressive disorder – the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44; during any given year, approximately 8 million adults live with post-traumatic stress; 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported non-medical use of prescription painkillers in 2010; and, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have become a public health epidemic.
The World Health Organization suggests that the rate of chronic diseases is rapidly increasing worldwide, and that that rate is expected to increase. We have a chronic health disease epidemic in a culture of shame and stigma that compounds suffering. When we are unwell, have an illness, symptom, or a health condition, we suffer. We share the experience of suffering with the whole of humanity, but how are we collectively responding to that suffering?
The solution is not to shame people for being unwell; not to blame people for contributing to their health condition; and, not to impose restrictions on their ability to heal and feel better. The solution is to amplify care and compassion and to compassionately empower people to better take care of themselves so that they can improve upon their health, quality of life and well-being -- not just for themselves, but for everyone around them. Compassion has a domino healing effect. Focus on compassion and compassion becomes the norm.
Copyright © 2016. Sylvia Carlson. All Rights Reserved.
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