Are we in a Mental Health crisis?
October is Mental Health Awareness Month. National Depression Screening Day is October 6. October 10 is World Mental Health Day. With all the focus on mental health, you’d think society thriving. Instead, Americans struggle more than ever.
For over two years the pandemic isolated us. Political polarization divides us. Inflation contributes to financial stress and the endless scroll of social media leaves society in a constant state of comparison. Is it any surprise we are mentally ill?
Mental Struggles Mean Major Profits
Antidepressant use is on the rise. Between 2015 and 2018, an estimated 13.2 percent of adults age 18 and older took antidepressants, according to a study from the CDC. That’s an increase from 11% in 2005 to 2008. Women use antidepressants almost 2:1. Almost a quarter of people who take antidepressant medication have done so for a decade or more.
SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac and Lexapro rake in billions annually. In 1997, Prozac alone generated $2.36 billion in sales. Zoloft generated $304 million in sales in 2016. And it’s estimated the global depression drug sales will top $18 billion by 2024. Your mental struggles mean major profits for Big Pharma.
Think about it. When is the last time you heard a commercial for meditation or physical exercise? Why don’t doctors encourage healthy diets and adequate sleep? Because healthy people aren’t profit. It’s why the only prescribed solution to mental problems is a pill which carries a myriad of side effects like seizures, sexual dysfunction and even suicidal tendencies. But don’t worry, they’ve got a pill for those side effects too.
Are Mental Health Issues a Crutch?
Throughout history people have experienced anxiety, sadness or depression. These are all normal emotions. However, today’s problems look much different from those of our cave ancestors and I can’t help but wonder if society is being conditioned to use mental struggles as a crutch.
Let’s take female bullying, for example. A common denominator amongst all the women who tried to cancel me is mental health struggles. I’ve seen posts about anxiety and depression from the same people who simultaneously treat others like shit. Sorry but these are not excuses for your own unresolved insecurities.
Tom McDonald recently rapped how society romanticizes mental health struggles, and at times it feels that way. This isn’t to say people shouldn’t speak out about depression or anxiety. They should, but don’t build your entire personality around it and definitely don’t use it as a crutch for the mistreatment of others.
Positive Ways to Improve Mental Health
Ok, I know this blog turned into a blast of Big Pharma, but there are plenty of ways to improve mental health without pills. For me, I love a good weed bath. Throw in some flowers, spark up a joint and decompress. Bonus points when the clawfoot bath is in Courtney Jette’s backyard.
Other options include time outdoors. Even a short walk or few minutes of sunshine can make a difference. Turn off your technology. Seriously, get away from the blue light of your screens. My friend Lizzy at Deep Water Wellness recommends a nutritious diet because, “Food is not like medicine, it is medicine.”
In this age of information, we have all the tools at our disposal to improve mental health. There’s no reason for society to be perpetually sick, beyond increasingly predatory PR campaigns from pharmaceutical giants. We are incredibly blessed with so-called “first world problems” like connectivity, capitalism and an abundance of cannabis. It’s time we focus on that, instead of our mental health struggles.