September eNews - In service of the common good

With so much focus on the individual and on the self, we have lost sight of the common good.

In service of the common good.

Last week I joined with millions of others to watch the funeral service and procession for Queen Elizabeth II. Tributes acknowledging her life of service and devotion came from across the globe. Her funeral provided an opportunity for grief, celebration, gratitude and awe at the sheer enormity of this historical moment to come together in communal ritual. As a cultural Anglican, I found the familiarity of the funeral service surprisingly moving. The words of those known prayers and hymns resonated deep in my spirit, even as my mind reacted to some of the archaic and exclusive language. It's no wonder we struggle with definitions of spirituality. It is about something that resonates deep within us, it is in the realm of the psyche, the soul. It is about community connection and the expression of those things that are beyond mere words and concepts. It is the experience of being part of something bigger than just us. Whatever you might think about the monarchy and its role in Australia, Queen Elizabeth II personified something of what we are missing in contemporary society. With so much focus on the individual and on the self, we have lost sight of the common good.
I came across an article in The Guardian by Sanah Ahsan titled ‘I’m a psychologist – and I believe we’ve been told devastating lies about mental health’. This piece explores this dilemma about the individual versus communal in an exploration of the burden that has been placed on people being told they are solely responsible for their mental ill-health and for relieving it. She writes, "If a plant were wilting we wouldn’t diagnose it with 'wilting-plant-syndrome' – we would change its conditions. Yet when humans are suffering under unliveable conditions, we’re told something is wrong with us, and expected to keep pushing through. To keep working and producing, without acknowledging our hurt". Conversely Sanah argues that the issues are not just personal but societal issues that need to be addressed by challenging the social, cultural and political causes of distress. You can read the article in full here.
In healthcare it is recognised that health and wellbeing are about every dimension of the person: physical, mental, social and spiritual. Yet our health care does not yet fully value, embody and offer this holistic model. At its core our work at SHA is about advocating for this to change. We will continue to advocate for those things that connect us to ourselves and to each other, that bring us back to community and in service of the common good.

Cheryl Holmes, CEO

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