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Mindful : October 2013
58 mindful October 2013 Mental and spiritual health is often the lowest priority in health care, even though it may actually be the most important thing. The way it happened was that as depression came to be defined more and more as a disease, pharmaceutical companies saw an opportunity and began heavily marketing drugs they called antidepressants. Insurers a nd HMOs then certified depression as a drug-treatable disease. The other approach was psychotherapy, but that was a much longer and more expensive process, a nd the outcome was hard to prove statistically. So to save money, the health care industry offered incentives for drug treatment and cut back benefits for psychotherapy and other so-called “talking cures.” The other factor is an eroding respect for the process of introspection. Issues related to mental and spiritual health are often the lowest priority in health care, even though they may actually be the most important thing. I think that’s beginning to change now, a ided significantly by increased medical interest in meditation. Among its many other benefits, med- itation is a way to bring back the kind of self-awa re- ness that psychotherapy was supposed to promote. Can you talk a bit about your work training health care practitioners? We’re not trying to make professiona ls more knowledgeable about the psychopathology of other people—there are plenty of other places to do that. We’re training them to be more mindful about their