I’m not that old, honest. It doesn’t seem that long ago I was in my twenties and not giving a rat’s chuff about the future or of things that didn’t directly affect me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t live in a personal bubble with no contact to external information, I just didn’t process it in the same way as I do now.
And I don’t believe I have ever seen such volatile times as I do now, even as a kid living through the 70s & 80s. Then we had Thatcher, Regan, the coal strikes, general strikes and the Cold War. I lived in an area that was massively dependent on the local car plant and when it shut, something like 50% of people were without jobs, some of the men not able to work again. Great swathes of the country were decimated as industries closed, interest rates rocketed along with unemployment.
There were the poll tax protests in virtually every town and city in the country, leading to a massive and frightening riot in the middle of London which shocked everyone at the time.
Yet, I still think what we are seeing here is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime and the effect on individuals is as bad as it was back then, if not worse. There has been a massive rise in prescribing of anti-depressants in the last few years and there is acknowledgement all round that we need to do more to tackle mental health issues, proactively as well as reactive. I’ve said before I believe we should show early intervention for children to screen for mental health issues all through their school career to identify and help them manage any conditions before they become a major issue for that child.
In a world where every time we switch on TV or see news online / in print, it’s doom and gloom, plus reporting in a sensationalist style that really sells the sizzle, not the sausage and what the author wants you to understand, not necessarily allow you to figure things out for yourself, join the dots. Journalism appears to be a dying art as it seems to be more about sensational editorials rather than balanced reporting, which then has an impact on the receiver as they try to process this in their filter.
There is change on the way and people voted for that change, that difference but will they get what they really expected? I doubt it, personally. I think people voted for change as they were fed up with the status quo and decided to vote for someone different, not really knowing what that difference would bring.
The people want change and sick of the behaviour of politicians, so voting has been more radical, with the right grabbing more votes as they are different to the neo-liberals, capitalising on the politics of division that are prevalent right now.
I believe that the political climate and the way it is reported is having an effect on the mood of people, on the mental health of the nation, more than one nation. The US looks like it is about to explode and across europe, people are becoming restless. With all this as a backdrop, the lack of compassion and more divided societies, I do believe that the rise of mental health issues can be linked to current affairs, politics and the society that is emerging. The picture is not good.
I am a firm believer in being the change you want to see. If you want change, be that change, live that change, demonstrate it. If you want a fairer, more equal society, you must show it in everything you do. Be the change.
There is another option and not limited to this – unplug yourself from the world, look after you and avoid the day to day chaos of world affairs. Let your mind concentrate on what’s important to you as well as your happiness, see where that takes you. Practice mindfulness, CBT and humanity every day, be kind to yourself and others to make life better for you personally. Create peace in your mind.
Maybe we just need to slow down and look at the flowers, the trees, the stars. Feel the wind in the face (I won’t say hair as I’m bald), the sun on your skin, smell the fresh cut grass and coffee.
Life is chaotic right now and although we can’t stop the world, we can take time out for us. I think we owe that to ourselves.