Recent years have seen the emergence of a new, more compassionate culture - both in society and the workplace. Everyday we seem to be privy to a new study, often highlighting frightening or sobering statistics about the mental and emotional health of every imaginable demographic, from the infant to the elderly.
Off the back of these studies and the very raw but necessary conversations they spark, we see common sense, empathy and humanity repackaged and reinvented in a way that best ‘appeals’ to the masses, in a bid to ensure accessibility for those who are most in need of tools to identify and tackle the growing mental health pandemic. The sheer volume of mental health ‘initiatives’ and emotional wellbeing ‘tools’ out there can be overwhelming, but it reinforces an important fact: people are talking about, thinking about and advocating for mental health and wellbeing.
This is the 21st century zeitgeist. This is one of the major ways our generation makes its mark and leaves the world better than we found it.
Alongside the long overdue recognition of and proactive approach towards big concepts and concerns like climate change and racial inequality, society is finally beginning to address the emerging mental health crisis.
Much like the correlation between the obesity crisis and increasingly processed foods, poor portion control and sedentary lifestyles, 21st century life feeds the poor mental crisis like no other era before.
Yes, each generation has faced its fair share of challenges, from World Wars and financial crises to social uprisings and everything in between. But these events are still happening to some extent, and their effects are amplified by a modern and interconnected world that makes it possible for issues half a world away to pile onto our proverbial plates. Add to this the oppressive 24/7 availability of social media comparison and judgement, our deep-set FOMO, and the unrelenting, fast-paced “slay” culture that demands we have and do it all. Is it really any wonder our mental and emotional health is in decline?
In the years leading up to - and certainly the months following - the worst of the 2020/21 Covid-19 Pandemic, mental health was becoming more of a focus for everyone; from politicians and celebrities, to human resources departments and the education sector. This is set to continue and we must do all we can to keep the conversation current and active.
Certain demographics tend to be ‘featured’ at different times, depending on a multitude of factors (think: current affairs, government initiatives, findings from contemporary studies and where we are in the mental health awareness timeline). These focus groups have been both broad and smaller subgroups, with different genders, ethnicities and ages being represented at different times.
We are at a crucial tipping point though, where mental health discussions are permeating all facets of society and culture, driven by younger generations who are rejecting the old ‘brush it under the rug’ mentality and stigma; they are choosing to be more open, honest and accepting of each other’s authentic self. It is their example that will pave the way for our youngest children to embrace who they are, how they feel and what varied ways they are to ensure better mental health as they deal with life’s challenges or, at the very least, equip and empower them with the tools they need without asking them to hide or jump through hoops.
Like the great zeitgeists before, the spirit of our age is to be better. Not in a materialistic or superficial sense, but in a personal and holistic way. To feel better. To communicate better. To be a better support for others while still treating ourselves and our needs better than before. This is the age of the mental health movement; long overdue and very much needed.