With all this imposed time on my hands, I can’t help but think of life’s pros and cons; more specifically, how we lived pre-virus. Without question, we have a lot of things to be grateful for; before this lockdown, we had convenience at our fingertips, many of us felt safe walking down the street and the option to hang out with people we care about was, in most cases, a quick drive down the road.
These freedoms are all wonderful things and I miss them terribly; pre-pandemic, I was struggling with enjoying them because of PTSD; even then, it was so tough leaving the house but I managed. One of my mental-health goals was to get out with friends for coffee at least once a week. It’s these simple things I miss dearly. The lack of connection is taking its toll.
We can do and we must do better.
But what about the cons? I keep asking myself. Should we go back to the way things were? What contributions did our old ways have on our mental health? I can’t help but wonder if it did more harm than good; in fact, I think it did, especially to our mental health.
According to the World Health Organization, we could have been doing a lot better.
Health systems have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental disorders. As a consequence, the gap between the need for treatment and its provision is wide all over the world. In low- and middle-income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder.2WHO; Mental disorders; 28 November 2019.
Need help accessing mental health resources? Off to our Mental health resources page
This startling conclusion made by WHO is, in my view, something that I feel we should endeavour to fix once the fog and fear of COVID-19 have lifted. Without question, we can do and must do better.
Although the mental-health impacts of this virus are unknown, some experts are postulating that we will be facing what they describe as the next pandemic – and they say that there will be an exponential rise in mental illnesses.
Read more: Mental health, the next pandemic?
what”s causing the rise in mental illness.
From my perspective, the old funding formulary needs to change to maximize mental-health support for those who are in need. According to an article in Psychiatric Times, mental health will cost $16 trillion globally by 2030 – TRILLION!
Find the source of their article here: Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development
So, with that, I ask you, what needs to change? Well, it’s worth taking a look at what has contributed to the mental-health crisis. For example, our insistence on the value we place on work as we know it. To make matters worse, we have heavily invested in the myth that keeping ourselves busy is “good for us.” A myth that we wrongfully pass on to our children.
Is the amount of planet-killing “valuables” really good for us?
Perhaps the biggest issue I have with this notion is that it’s narrow in its scope and disregards how human beings are wired. Taking on too much produces stress and anxiety, and as a result, many will develop an anxiety disorder; this is especially true with young minds. Is going to the point of absolute mental exhaustion really good for us? I think not.
Other contributing factors that may cause one to get sick include but are not limited to:
- A severe lack of parental guidance: Our children are being raised by anything and everyone but us. A sad truth that can leave coping skills underdeveloped and thus making children more susceptible to anxiety disorders. In fact, a total lack of skills development can only cause them more distress; many kids are growing up disabled by having everything done for them.
- The advent of social media: Our increasing reliance on it has replaced exercise and has brought everything from wars to bullies into our homes. How can this relentless onslaught of pain and suffering not contribute to one’s mental-health decline?
- Work: If you work Monday to Friday, you will get only eight out of thirty-one days off – eight! That means you spend the majority of your time working. Combine that with running with kids or whatever you do, and your mind never gets a chance to rest. Similarly, our kids, some as young as four, spend almost eight hours a day in school; they have homework and extracurricular activities on top of that. Again, where do we find the time to rest and be together?
- Our linear view on the definition of success: Is the amount of planet-killing “valuables” really good for us?
- Failure to recognize your limits: Remember, we are human, not superhuman; you will need and will have to take, time for yourself if you want to minimize your risks of illness.
“Is how I was living my life pre-pandemic really, the best way to live my life?”
These are but a few examples of how we’ve eroded our mental health; there are indeed many, many more. I think one of the most important questions to ask ourselves is: why do we construct our entire lives in such a manner that is, in almost every way, the opposite of how we need to live them?
Moreover, why would we continue to carry on in such a way that has essentially cost us time with our loved ones and has made millions of us sick? It’s like knowing that there are dangerously-high levels of carbon monoxide in your home, yet you choose to do nothing about it. Ridiculous, right?
Instead of following our dreams, we plugged into technology and in doing so, we disconnected.
If it’s true that our old ways were making us sick, then what should our new normal include? When it comes to mental health, we must ensure that everyone gets the help they need and the treatment they deserve. This means funding that keeps pace with the prevalence of illness. Not only does it require more funding, but it also needs to be robust enough to adjust to the influx of mental-health conditions after this pandemic is over.
Listen to others talk about their mental health journey at; A New Dawn podcast.
Perhaps we as a society need to do more than that, and maybe our first step should start by each of us asking ourselves one fundamentally important question: “Is how I was living my life pre-pandemic, really the best way to live my life?” If you find that the answer is no, then getting back to “normal” will probably make you sick.
“While you were busy pushing your loved ones out of the way, time kept slipping away.”
We need to do better, and we have to, for the life we knew previously was built on exhausting ourselves to the degree where we unplugged from the family unit, ran out of time for friends, and left our dreams at the door of the job we took, so we could eat.
Instead of following our dreams, we plugged into technology and in doing so, we disconnected, not only from those we love but from all the things that fuel our passion.
We can do and must do better – so let’s demand better. Our reality isn’t really real in the sense that everything in our life that we view as essential is based on dependence, addiction if you will. Therefore, our minds are highjacked and conditioned into a buy, buy, buy mindset. This “normal” tells us that we aren’t happy unless we have the latest and greatest thing.
WE NEED TO GET OFF THE 21ST-CENTURY, MAKE THEM INTO DRONES PROJECT AND REDISCOVER WHAT MAKES US MENTALLY WHOLE
Addiction: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behaviour, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence : the state of being addicted. merriam-webster
Our food, what we drink, the bills we pay, all chip away at our original design and make us into a tribe of disconnected, mentally ill and addicted consumers. Personally, I can literally see the definition of how we live within the official definition of addiction above.
So, what’s the cure? We need to get off the 21st-century, make them into drones project and rediscover what makes us mentally whole; love, kindness and connection are fundamental for humans to thrive and be well. Therefore, if we re-invent ourselves and move towards true happiness, the road to mental wellness will be a shorter, smoother and far less arduous ride. Yes indeed, we can do better.
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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness
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