The Growing Shamefulness of Ignoring the Mental Health Crisis


Our civilization has ignored the causes of mental health issues for too long.

Nearly every week now we see a major news story about some deranged killing or maiming someone. And often, as in the case of the pilot who crashed a plane full of people into a mountain, the victims are many.

The problem is that people just say he was crazy, and they leave it at that.They don’t ask what made him like that, or what they could have done to address the issue.

What we’re really talking about is taking responsibility for people. We’re talking about accepting that when someone is uneducated they will act like an uneducated person. When people are desperate they will act like desperate people. And when people are sick they will act like sick people.

This means increased crime, it means increased violence, and it means random events that have all the markings of terrorism, except the political goals.

So we have a couple of options for handling this:

  1. We can continue to blame the symptoms of a disease, or

  2. We can start looking for a cure

The sad part is that we already know what the cure is, but because it involves taking collective responsibility for the conditions that cause people among us to fail, we choose to simply blame the symptom and the person exhibiting it.

The problem is that there are too many people in this world, and not enough resources. The problem is that there are not enough jobs, yet those who are uneducated, underemployed, and unemployed continue to have kids, basically throwing their unprepared young into a woodchipper that is the current economy.

The problem is that we pretend mental illness is not something caused by us. It’s a failure of parenting. It’s a failure of community services. It’s a failure of our education system. And it’s a failure of our general willingness to give two shits about other people.

Overwhelmingly coming from the right, the general idea is that if someone isn’t educated, that’s not our problem. If someone needs medical help, that’s not our problem. If someone, or an entire community, is stuck in a cycle of poverty, that’s not our problem.

And when they lash out, or continue having children, or kill themselves, or shoot up a school because they grew up abused or ignored, we blame them for not taking personal responsibility for their actions.

Fuck that.

How about we take some responsibility for their actions. People don’t come out of the womb as adults causing harm. Mental illness can be created and nurtured in people through ostracizing responses, apathy, and neglect.

People don’t enter the world as uneducated adults. We create that opportunity for them by prioritizing how we spend our tax dollars. When we charge exorbitant amounts of money for college, and create an economy that gives only a few enough time to do the work, we create that “opportunity” to be uneducated.

We do this. We as adults build future humans through the environment that we create for them.

We close all the mental health facilities. We charge tens of thousands of dollars for an education that should be free. We build multi-billion dollar industries around keeping people healthy.

That’s where our priorities are. They’re on creating the maximum amount of profit on the maximum number of things.

And the people making the money sit at the very top, insulated. They have completely separate communities. Their kids go to completely different schools, where they interact with each other instead of regular people.

Meanwhile, the regular world goes to shit.

There are few jobs, many of which will soon be done by computers and robots. Healthcare is prohibitively expensive. Same with education. And all of this basically means that in order for a family to have enough money to feed their kids, they must be absent enough to raise them poorly.

Parents aren’t spending time with their kids because there isn’t time to. They’re working multiple jobs. They’re uneducated on how best to raise them because they couldn’t go to school. And the kids are at school with others in the same exact position, being bullied, realizing that they’ll never amount to anything, etc.

And they get angry. They don’t feel like they matter.

So they grow up and become Republicans because that’s the party that blames “those other people” for making their lives harder. They blame the Blacks, or the Mexicans, or the Gays. Or the Government.

But who really caused all this? Those who removed all the services. Those who chose to make a profit off of the core services that would have lifted everyone simultaneously.

Of course, those same people are also Republican as well, because they’re the ones lobbying the big businesses to lower or get rid of the minimum wage. Remove the safety nets. Raise the cost of education.

These are all Republican goals, because they make the top 3% more and more money.

And here’s the beautiful part. The more they remove the services, the more they inject a narrative of blaming others into the now poor, uneducated, and the desperate.

And what’s the result?

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Ted Cruz. School shootings. And riots.

This comes back to mental health in a very simple way: we are applying a pressure to our population that simply isn’t sustainable.

You cannot raise the price of education (education is for profit), while removing jobs (automation raises profits), while reducing sick and vacation time (bad for profits), and hope for anything other than poverty, mediocrity, anger, and…ultimately, backlash.

Republican leaders claim to be about the family, yet their policies are preventing families from being together and getting smarter. They’re not together because the parents are both working two jobs just to pay for rent and healthcare and groceries. And they’re not educated because they can’t afford it.

Rinse and repeat for their kids, and as a bonus make sure they all vote Republican so that we can keep those policies coming.

It’s a fucking pressure cooker. And it cooks people. It cooks communities.

All these shootings? All this random violence? All these mental issues? They’re just a little bit of steam being let off by a population that is under so much pressure that they don’t know what else to do.

They’re cracking, mentally, because the conditions they’ve been raised into are fucking impossible.

Yet we look at Ted Cruz, and Mitt Romney, and these other folks who cannot wait to abolish the minimum wage, raise the cost of education, raise the cost of healthcare, remove social security and medicaid, along with countless other things that will further erode and destroy the regular family.

And they keep talking about how the 50’s were so great.

It wasn’t because of religion. It was because a family could have one job between two parents that paid enough for the entire family! That’s just a regular office job. Nothing fancy.

That was enough money to live, vacation, and save for retirement. This meant that a parent, usually the mother, could stay at home with the kids. She could be there. Raise them. And the father could help because he wasn’t worried about being fired, or outsourced, or having his wages lowered in the name of profits.

Think about this the next time you’re voting. Think about this the next time you’re blaming the crazy person that shoots up some place.

We are the ones applying this pressure. We are the ones crushing futures. We do it by choosing profit as our national priority instead of family. We do it by destroying the core services that allow parents the room to raise their children well, like they had just decades ago.

This the heart of the mental health issue, and until we stop letting corporations with only profit in mind define our policies as a nation, we are doomed to see mass shootings and horrific suicides in the news.

This is our problem, and it’s time we take some responsibility.

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