A Harvard study found that individuals who had suffered severe neglect and abuse, their integrated fibers in crucial brain structures were stunted or underdeveloped resulting in dysfunctional neurocognitive processing. Thus, it is no wonder, so many of our socioeconomic disadvantaged youth find it difficult to focus on and attend to classroom work. Young and old alike, who are exposed to chronic stress and trauma find it difficult to concentrate as they struggle with memory related challenges because of dysfunctional neurocognitive processing in pre-frontal cortex. This is the last area of the brain to develop and is responsible for decision-making, planning and impulse control among other functions.
PranaMind believes this is a primary source for the mental health stressors, violence, anger, substance abuse found in indigenous communities. To eradicate this source requires a radical shift in understanding the intra and interdependence between culturecology and mental health.
Science provides ample evidence of the connections and dynamic relationships between the individual and her or his “culturecology” which is demonstrated in the collectivist nature of indigenous societies. There are no “single” human beings. The “relationship,” between individual and environment must be understood within the specific sociocultural milieu—the “cultural grounding” that the individual lives in. This “cultural grounding” and meaning of each (individual and environment) must be culturally understood in order to fully understand the impact and influence the interactive relationship between the individual and environment has on the individual’s mental health.
Converging lines of evidence in the fields of social psychology, psychonutrition, social neuroscience, and cultural neuroscience illustrates the magnitude social relationships have on an individual’s resilience and mental health. Human beings are social creatures, and the brain is a social organ that is continuously being reshaped, i.e., neuroplasticity, neurogenesis through social interactions and experiences. Therefore, the brain can be changed, regulated, and aided in healing in the context of social relationships.
PranaMind promotes community mental health and well-being. We integrate social, cultural, spiritual, economic, political, environmental, and international influences to promote health and empowerment at individual and systemic levels within the social communities it serves. Our motto is captured in the spirit of the African concept of UBUNTU: “The idea of Ubuntu is expressed in the proverb – “u muntu ngu muntu nga bantu – a person is a person because of other people”.