Last week reminded us that mental illnesses do not discriminate based on wealth and fame. Kate Spade, the popular fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, the world traveling TV chef, both took their lives despite their successes. According to an official CDC report, “Suicide rates went up more than 30% in half of states since 1999.” How did we get here?
IWF’s Carrie Lukas offers insight into the way society has changed, becoming a more hostile, and tribal environment. “What we lack today is a culture of kindness. We’ve lost the ethic of encouraging people to respect others, even those with whom they disagree.” In sum, people aren't nice to each other anymore.
This culture of un-kindness is exacerbated by our increased social media use. From platforms like Facebook, to Twitter, social media has become the place to air all political grievances. It seems so common that people get so caught up in demonizing each other, they forget there is a real human on the other side of that username.
Authors like Brene Brown, discuss how “Our increasingly polarized culture and public debates; the increased isolation and loneliness that too many people today feel” have lead to a societal decay. But, what can we do about it?
I think it is fairly obvious that we cannot legislate people into being nice to each other. Policy proposals are few and far between, suggesting “Current mental health policy tends to support the status quo system regardless of the effectiveness of services, wasting precious resources that could be redirected to help those who are not receiving needed care.”
Despite this, no matter how much money we seem to throw at the issue “It is not compassionate to fund failure. Principled mental health reform calls for raising expectations, measuring progress, rooting out failures, and insisting that America can do better for these, its most valuable citizens.”
I believe we need to focus on creating change on the individual level—recognize disagreements as opportunities to learn and educate, be more compassionate to those with whom you disagree, and pay extra attention to how you talk about mental health. There is a stigma around this issue that prevents people from getting the help they need, and there is not legislation that could remedy this.