Resources for Practioners with a diagnosed mental illness

the point i was making was the guide addresses a broader community than adhd and autism, and when addressing people from this broader community it is probably wiser to not presume that they accept their diagnosis as part of their identity i.e. to not refer to them as schizophrenic etc. thank you for the adhd perspective.


Basically I was trying to go further than what the guide is saying: which is to not assume either way and just ask how they want their diagnosis to be referred to. Because this will be different from person to person and diagnosis to diagnosis.

This goes for any marginalised group where this could be in doubt, not just mental health: be it race, ethnicity, gender identity and pronouns, sexual orientation. Always ask how people prefer to be called.


There’s a lot of research into the efficacy of loving kindness mindfulness.

One of the early researchers into loving kindness towards others was Barbara Fredrickson. One of the more recent researchers into loving kindness towards oneself (rebranded in the literature as self compassion) is Kristin Neff.

You can review this literature for yourself but my observation is that it’s pretty supportive of loving kindness, both towards oneself, and towards others, as protective for mental health.

I’m a neuropsychologist, and I worked in severe (secure facility) mental health settings. As part of the morning routine I started doing loving kindness (‘May I be free from … May I be well and happy in every way “) as a group exercise. I remember that with a room of about 30-40 individuals, most with diagnoses of schizophrenia (and some frankly psychotic), at the end of doing this, you could have heard a pin drop.

My observations are:

  1. A diagnosis does not matter if you are able to meet psychosis / mood concerns with a sense of kindness, gentleness and compassion.

  2. Self compassion (loving kindness towards oneself) isn’t part of loving kindness as taught by the Buddha. However, it is direct training in mindfulness of mind (the third satipatthana). Practicing the traditional formulation of loving kindness towards oneself (“May I be … “) trains one in becoming aware of mind states and then letting them go. I think this is why it’s so effective - it develops mental resilience.

  3. Loving kindness towards others is protective of mental health in a different way. The traditional way of developing loving kindness towards friendly, neutral, and inimical persons (May he/she be free from … May he/she be well and happy in every way “) generates a sense of connection and relationship with others. This of extremely protective against paranoia and aversion towards others.

I always recommend loving kindness mindfulness in practice.

I generally advise practitioners with mental health concerns to avoid trying to develop deep concentration / jhana, and to avoid focusing on anatta. The possibility for dissociation, and nihilistic depression are there for each of these. The Buddha’s path isn’t limited by sticking to loving kindness - it’s just a different way up the mountain.

Instead I recommend (in addition to loving kindness) that practitioners with mental health concerns to focus on developing the positive aspects of the Buddha’s path: physical calm, mental tranquility, joy, content satisfaction. And of course a very very firm base in the five precepts.

Hope this helps.


This is similar to the practice of right thought (sammāsaṅkappa 正志):

Thought of detachment (nekkhammasaṅkappa), thought of non-malice (abyāpādasaṅkappa), thought of non-harming (avihiṃsāsaṅkappa).