Mental Health: Just How Much Have We Got Wrong?

Everyone knows that great ideas can spread. But bad ones can also “hang around so long that you can forget you have the option of questioning them.” In this arresting Ted Talk, the entrepreneur and mental health leader Khaliya takes on some ideas that certainly merit questioning, and make a passionate case for trying to “remove our mental health blinders.”

“We all have blind spots. And science does too.” This is one of many straightforward remarks by activist, businesswoman, and entrepreneur Khaliya. She points at once to the erstwhile medical consensus that dietary fat consumption was the primary cause of many modern diseases. That consensus is quite gone now, because the evidence does not support it. Khaliya’s point is that it never did.

With this framework established, she asks us next to consider mental health. “What if we’re all stuck with 50% of the facts and told that it’s the whole picture?” she asks. What if, for example, we’ve trained ourselves to think of mental stress only in terms of illness, when mental injury is just as valid a concept? War, domestic violence, sexual abuse: does anyone who’s experienced these really doubt their potential to cause damage to the mind? Why then don’t we recognize the presence of such injuries?

She goes on to argue that only when you’re prepared to admit the reality of mental injuries—and they will affect one in four of us at some point in our lives—can you begin to work toward healing. And healing is the subject of the second half of this address. In particular, Khaliya underscores the too-long-ignored potential of neuroplasticity and psychedelic science.

Neuroplasticity is a measure of the brain’s ability to rewire and repair itself after injury, as when stroke victims recover muscle control by training surviving parts of the brain to “stand in” for lost portions. Psychedelic science, as the name implies, is the study of the therapeutic use of LSD, ayahuasca, and similar substances. As Allies has reported elsewhere, clinical trials with psychedelics are showing truly astonishing promise. And as the speaker points out, part of that promise is their potential to increase neuroplasticity itself.

If all of this sounds hard to follow, you’ll be surprised. The speaker puts it as plainly—and as earnestly—as anyone could ask for. Have a listen. On this subject, we all have a lot to learn.