Normalcy

Normalcy is a very significant protective factor for mental health and general health, and is often advised and emphasised by medical doctors as part of treatment programmes for children and adults with general medical and/or mental health problems.

We observed in countries in Asia that the public was advised to regularly leave their homes, engage safely within the community with general evidence-based initiatives to protect against respiratory infections (eg wash hands before a meal) and support the immune system (eg maintain a calm and positive mental state and environment, positive in person engagement with loved ones and peers, regular engagement in normative activities, relaxation in fresh air with nature and/or animals, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, adequate hydration and healthy food options such as fresh fruit and vegetables).  These recommendations were advised on large TV screens on a near constant basis within the public; one example was of a grandfather teaching his children how to fish and prepare meals with fresh vegetables, the way he was taught as a child.

Normative activities include engagement in positive face to face social interaction within the community with loved ones, supportive seniors and peers with similar interests, engagement in challenging, enjoyable, meaningful and relaxing activities and hobbies, along with learning and achieving goals, which improve or maintain confidence.  

These normative activities fall under protective factors and contribute significantly to a healthy immune system, general health and mental health for children and adults, along with social, language, emotional, cognitive and physical development, and general well-being in children and young people, preventing impairment and distress for the general public.  We consistently emphasise the importance of these protective factors in all clinical domains with good clinical outcomes.  Treatment resistant cases referred to as ‘hopeless’ are often referred to us, and we almost always attribute positive outcomes to an emphasis on protective factors including normative activities.  Many high risk children associate positive outcomes with “to be busy and to belong” (physical and mental health assessment of 93 unaccompanied minors in #Liverpool in 2005). 

 Normalcy requires a context of liberty and autonomy to maintain a protective function for most adults and young people.  Normalcy, liberty and autonomy were advocated throughout Asia during our travels, as observed firsthand; the public was educated well regarding risk and protective factors, and then asked to make responsible decisions to protect self and others. 

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