I consider myself blessed to have grown up in the 1960s when there was an underlying and fundamental belief that the world could be changed for the better. Between purposeful action and technology, problems could be addressed and solved. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part, but the recent celebrations of the Moon Landing seemed to epitomise the time and the attitude.
Fast forward fifty years and we seem to be mired in a sea of problems which demand our attention. The focus of media outlets on negative stories, the existential threats to our future posed by climate change and environmental destruction all paint a sorry picture of our future.
There is a cost on the lives of individuals who are asked to function with little hope of fulfilling their ambitions, or even rising above the daily grind. The classic story that education would give you the resource and attitude to move forward in your life is no longer universally true. The conveyor belt linking education to a positive future, material welfare, a good job for life, a house and settling down with a family is increasingly restricted. The network of friends and communities which was a given when I was growing up has been fractured by people having to move to find work and the word can seem to be a very lonely place for those with least resources in our society.
Unsurprisingly in these circumstances, depression and anxiety can seep into the psyche of those having to toil on a daily basis.
The triggers for some of these negative and limiting emotions are situational. I have recently spoken to friends and teachers whose daily working conditions are certainly not conducive to their mental or physical health. Long hours in negative or threatening conditions, a continuous backlog of administration paperwork and constant exhortations to improve their own and the organisation’s performance do not promote positive mental health. Between the stigmas that still exist regarding mental health, and the pruning back of the provision for expert psychological and medical support, people too often struggle on in misery.
Like others, I call for a revolution in thinking regarding dealing with mental health issues, creating more positive organisational habits and promoting more healthy communities. You cannot address the issues regarding mental health as a series of discrete issues… they are about the whole environment.
Thanks to Anxiety.org for outlining one aspect of these issues so graphically.