Psychologists and Healthy Communities

In my experience, we psychologists often discourage one another from discussing politics. We may wish to think about what paradigms for government (i.e., “politics”) best promote mental health among the citizenry and the growth of healthy communities. As the election season heats up, I suggest we consider this matter as we follow various campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels.

My major professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School displayed a quotation from Sigmund Freud posted on the wall putting forth the notion that for a person to be healthy, three things are necessary: (1) to work with a sense of purpose, (2) to love in a way in which no one is being exploited, and (3) to play as children do. Without any mention of partisan politics, my model for health-enhancing governance follows from these three tenets.I like to see work incentivized with a minimum of deductions, and take-home pay that is as large as possible. This helps families provide for their own needs, such as food, tires for the car, school clothes, mortgage payments, car repair, and other such necessities.

It also requires that the large helping industry, and the assumptions upon which it is built, be re-thought and re-conceptualized. In every instance, we should help the less fortunate in a way that promotes them to become independent of us whenever possible. In my opinion, we do this poorly.Although loving in which no one is exploited can be accomplished with little or no money, that gift in the silver box, dinners in restaurants, scout dues, and a new baseball glove or riding lessons require some measure of discretionary money, and discretionary money is, by definition, what is left over after the basics have been bought. Expressions of love, as they are expressed in charitable donations, are also facilitated via small deductions.

To the extent that we can love those in generations-to-come, I suggest we pay down our 18 trillion dollar national debt and leave those who come after us with government (and a way of thinking about government) that is solidly “in the black.”Larger after-tax checks also help people play. A minimum of deductions makes it easier to buy dance lessons, pay dues to various recreational clubs, movie and concert tickets, sports equipment, and dinners.  Such play experiences also help build a treasure-trove of happy memories.

In each of these three categories regarding a healthy life, there is the undeniable multiplier effect that results from people spending money. Restaurants, auto-repair shops, jewelry stores, waiters, dance instructors, sporting goods stores, department stores, hotel owners, all tend to prosper when people have money and can buy goods and services that you and I provide.

In the model I describe, there is also an increased ability to save and invest, which is a topic I will save for another day.

I encourage my fellow mental health workers to consider these principles and support candidates and vote accordingly.

Andrew J. Billups, PsyD

About ajb

I am clinical psychologist and academic coach with more than twenty years of psychotherapy, academic coaching, and training experience. I operate from my base camp in the Chesapeake Bay Country of Tidewater Virginia. I have a long-term interest in the relationship among public policy, education, mental health, poverty, and change language.
This entry was posted in healthy communities, psychologists and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.