Why we need to focus more on mental health

For the past two years, I have struggled with severe depression. I am not alone: almost half of our generation experiences depression and anxiety; the majority of us have felt profound loneliness
and melancholy at least since the start of the pandemic…. – So then, I must ask, why does it  remain taboo?

Depression and mental health remains taboo in the sense that it must be disguised as humor. We so often use this ‘dark humor’ to conceal our true feelings, which is why I’m afraid for us. If so many of us are feeling so down, why haven’t things changed? Why haven’t we addressed it seriously, instead of relegating it to comedy, guidance-office emails, and English essays?

Yes, we frequently find Instagram stories littered with links to ‘resources’, posts from an online therapist, or a supportive quote; but do these really help? Does this improve our ‘mental health’? – Short answer: no! How in the world could superficial efforts like these do anything?! While yes, the intentions are good, we aren’t actually changing or improving things!

‘Well okay, David, then what can we do?’ – we must invest in what works: allocating funds to increase the counseling staff (e.g., hiring more social workers, psychologists, etc.); restructuring our curriculum to decrease the student-to-teacher ratio, which would foster a sense of community and belonging, beyond the tremendous educational advantages; offering classes that examine social, ethical and, in a word, human problems, by combining a study of literature with intimate discussions (because how else can we learn how to lead our lives, if not by those who came before us?); and, perhaps more than anything else, the mere ability to adapt, to be unconstrained by rigid formulas of purely and strictly scholastic education.

And this is only at school: we must also question ourselves and our priorities—that which we pursue, our goals and aspirations. The predominant function that we are assigned, the ultimate goal which is drilled into us and repeated and reinforced, is that of accumulating wealth and pleasure. We are told ‘go to school, get good grades, attend a good college, get a good job, marry, have and raise kids, retire and promptly die’—but then we are expected not to be sad?! Because while there are immediate solutions, they are temporary and superficial: they do not address the underlying issues, that is, the roots.

We cannot expect to solve our current mental health crisis by maintaining the status quo; rather, we must analyze the framework of capitalism, consumerism, ‘Hustle Culture’, and take aim at this. – Without doing so, we risk jeopardizing the health of several million people who are supposed to the future; and, consequently, we face the problem of posterity: who shall take our place on this Earth? – And these people, the future children of Earth, will be even more ill and tormented by mental disease if we fail to address one of our most pressing issues.