The collective mental health

If our societies worked harder on fixing what’s causing the #mentalhealthcrisis, our collective mental health will improve.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

Main image credit:Poor family vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com

For the last two years, I have seen countless articles on the mental health crisis. And rightfully so. Yet, I have yet to see much deviation from the norm – that of fixing the system itself.

The main narratives I see? “We need more mental health professionals;” and “Our mental health care system is falling apart;” followed by “We need funding, funding and you guessed it, more funding.”

While I whole-heartedly agree with the experts cited in the literature I obsessively comb through, the system itself is far from the holy grail of solutions. So, with that in mind, let’s follow the expert’s analysis and invest, invest, invest. In more than just the system. After all, prevention is the best medicine – right?

The Two-tiered mental-health care system

Yet, I see so much more going on that could be remedied, at least to some extent, which could also help ease the unprecedented suffering. Chief among them, wealth distribution.

One would have to be sleeping under a rock not to know just how bad the divide between the rich and poor has become. So, it’s easy to see why those on the bottom end are suffering mentally. And while it’s true that depression is found in every income level, those who must choose between heating and eating are many. Conversely, those who have money to burn are few.

Therefore, the “haves” can buy their therapy, while the “have-nots” cannot. Sure, there is public mental health in many countries, but it too is suffering. From what, you ask? Well, from shortage of staff to a shortage of funding; from a failure to see the need for a robust, publicly-funded system, and so on. See, it’s just another instance where the wealthy get what they want and scraps for the rest is fine. Not!

Nova Scotia wants to fix mental health

However, there are potential solutions. If, for example, governments fixed the income-to-inflation ratio, and instituted something like universal basic income, we would see a sharp reduction in the need for mental-health intervention. Other solutions include: making it illegal to hire “part-time employees” in a manner that doesn’t give them enough hours to eat. This is typically done to avoid paying benefits. Savage, if you ask me.

I mean, let’s think about it for a moment. If happiness seems to peak around $85,000USD/year, as some studies suggest, then why aren’t we there? I’ll leave it there for you, the reader, to debate. What I see in this model, however, is the potential to help ease the #mentalhealthcrisis. Simply put, a mentally-healthy workforce is a productive one…. A fact lost on the wealthy and governments alike.

The optimal wage for happiness

What’s more, is a universal failure to see a human being’s worth.

Jonathan Arenburg. theroadtomentalwellness.com

In my view, we place value on the type of jobs and the titles that accompany them. For example, CEOs are often quoted as saying, “Well, I started the company and take all the risk, therefore, I should see the majority of the return.” While the cleaning staff – well, they tidy the place, so they can starve.

Now, from a wealthy person’s perspective, this view makes perfect sense, to them! Firstly, it’s true: they often do take on a lot of risk, although for an owner of an LLC for example, the company assumes the incompetence of the owner, so leaving the owner unscathed financially. So, there’s that. Don’t be fooled by their silly justifications.

But if you’re the “little guy,” you deserve your lot in life. So, if you’re a custodial worker, your particularly important work is considered menial in the hierarchy of employment. But why?

The Breakdown

Jim is a 63-year-old stock clerk at an international store chain. Jim has been loyal to the company since he was 25. Never late, hardly sick, and even at his age, he has a reputation for being the hardest worker there. His rep is earned because he is in fact, one of the hardest working employees they have.

Sadly however, his wage has remained stagnant since his start, with him making a few dollars over minimum wage in his 38 years. This, despite the company seeing gains in the billions year after year.

Jim’s family has suffered because of his undervalued title. And by default, the company he has given his life to, has undervalued him as a living human being.

Poverty and its psychological outcomes

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness the book - Anchor Points - Lonely - 4 fundamentals for authentic love
Take a trip down my mental wellness road and find yourself as you learn to overcome your own life-long battle with mental illness. Lonely – 4 fundamentals for authentic love

Jim doesn’t often admit to his struggles, but he’s had his power cut, and gone hungry so his three kids could eat. As a result, he has been depressed for years, only wanting better for his family.

Unfortunately, he has never had therapy – why? Can’t afford the $200/hr for to see a psychologist. A slave to his circumstances, he works, sleeps, repeats. And yet, despite all the hardship, he faithfully walks through the doors of the same corporate entity that has kept him poor.

A reality of millions

Jim by all accounts works as hard and has contributed to the prosperity of the company, just as much or more than his CEO. So, why must he suffer? It’s worth noting that many wealthier people take home more than Jim and have nothing to do with the company’s success. They are called shareholders and so far, as I’m concerned, are the blight on the economic inequality we see today.

Somehow, the lowest wage earners like Jim, millions of them, are the backbone of the companies the work for, yet are told they “should be grateful.” Um, what! That’s a cold and inhumane thing to say, isn’t it?

So, the question here is, what effect does this disparity have on one’s mental well-being? The short answer is lots. From anxiety disorders to suicide, the wealthy have created a society of biological replacement parts. Simply replacing us if we break and doing their best to get out of paying for breaking you has become the norm.

But fear not, there are more of us then there are of them. So, organize and demand better economic policy from the people you elected. Level the wage game, and our collective #mentalhealth will improve.

What’s missing in the equation today is the human element. Humans aren’t robots. They are living, breathing children of the earth. We need food, clothing, shelter, and the proper means to acquire them.

– Jonathan Arenburg – theroadtomentalwellness.com

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Categories: Mental Health, Mental health care system, Opinion piece

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