Monday Musing

Dear Pogue,

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking around mental health in the last two weeks. I introduced the subject in a previous Musing when I made mention of the evidence now supporting the effects of Social Media on teenagers over the last 10 years. This is now a well researched subject with a plethora of data to support it. And the issue, it’s not being dealt with, not really.

In fact mental health is something that we, as a society, seem slow to get a grip on. I remember being in a city in Canada where there were a large number of homeless people on the streets and many of these showed signs of poor mental health. Indeed, as I walk down one Main Street I was nearly attacked by one man who eventually satisfied himself by shouting random things in my direction and at anyone else who hadn’t crossed the road!

I recently read Lost Connections by Johann Hari, an excellent read by a writer who starts his research from his own personal experience of depression and soon concludes that much of todays treatment is of the sticking plaster variety. That is, for years he was prescribed pills that temporarily removed the symptoms and then higher doses of the medication when the effects were no longer sufficient. But no one ever asked “why” he was as he was. Just sent him away with his “fix”. And doesn’t that work exceedingly well for big pharma? A continuous source of revenue, but don’t let me get started on that one!

Then a friend told me about his experience with observing PTSD, particularly amongst Service people and the repeated failures in dealing with the issues. Indeed he told of the increasing number of ex-Service persons who joined the ranks of the homeless in America due to their inability to cope with life, and the lack of professional help🥺.

Also there’s the growing awareness, in recent years, that autism actually is a thing and children with this condition actually do need to be treated differently (and often have different talents). It’s not a matter of discipline as the answer, which was, and I’m sure still is, the case in many classrooms during the recent past. Billy Connelly recounts in his autobiography, Windswept and Interesting, how he was treated by both his carers and his teachers as a young person who was on “the scale”. It was seen as bad behaviour to be beaten out of him!

But now we are more enlightened, more educated…perhaps🥴? Actually I’m realising our enlightenment has caused us to realise that there is a massive problem out there, if we even choose to acknowledge it or show any interest, but we are no closer to dealing with it. It is an issue we all need to tackle as a society because many of the causes can only be tackled by a willingness to offer care and acceptance (read Lost Connections). Many of the sufferers were victims long before the illness overtook them and that needs addressing. Someone said that drug addiction is a cry for help, a sign of a deeper need, and not the real issue. How right that person was!

That’s my current Musing. Not a pretty one I’m afraid, but a real one. I’m not sure where I go from here with this but I just want you to know that there is a big issue out there that I think gets brushed under the proverbial carpet because it’s ugly, time consuming and comes at a cost to those who are willing to get involved.

Yours, a little troubled myself this morning,


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