Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Healthy Mind Platter: let's not follow the FDA.

Dan Siegel and David Rock recently published an idea called the Healthy Mind Platter. The idea is that we need some guidelines for mental health, kind of like guidelines for physical health. I'm a little conflicted.

The good:
- raising awareness that mental health is necessary (even for people without mental disorders)
- creating a concept ("healthy mind platter") and giving it a name
- calling out some types of mental health that we may not usually be aware of. We all know that sleep, physical, and focus time are helpful; maybe we're aware of connecting time and down time; and time in and play time definitely get the short end of the stick.

The bad:
- are these 7 types of time all that's necessary for a healthy life?
- where can I read more about the decisions that went into creating this Platter?
- it's vague and not actionable. If I'm an average person, how do I use this in my life, besides just worry that I'm not getting a good balance? I guess every so often, I could think "I haven't been getting enough Down Time recently" or something, but I don't think I'd need a Healthy Mind Platter for that.
- do we really want to go the way of physical nutrition? The Food Pyramid was horrendously broken, the new MyPlate is similarly useless (e.g. they're still promoting skim milk), and so I'm not likely to trust anything that follows in their footsteps. Instead of making sweeping generalizations, let's focus on small manageable changes and helping people figure out what's best for their own mental health.

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