Are we all mentally ill?

29.11.2023

WHY DID SOCIETY GET THIS IMPRESSION?
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH FROM A PROFESSIONAL’S POINT OF VIEW?
STATISTICS AND REALITY IN 2023
BACK TO BLOGGERS, POLITICIANS AND BUSINESSMEN
A CHEAT SHEET OF “NORMALITY”
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Nowadays, there is a widespread opinion on social media that all bloggers, politicians, and businessmen are mentally ill. After all, healthy people do not need to show their lives, want to own a company and rule nations. And mentally healthy people are rather sad, too correct and not interesting at all… do you agree?

Social opinions are usually generalized and simplified, but they still reflect a certain amount of truth. Although the porridge was still very good… Let’s find out where the truth lies. Who is a mentally healthy person? Does the prevalence of mental problems mean that everyone has a mental disorder to some extent?

Let’s start with WHY THIS IMPRESSION HAS BEEN CREATED IN SOCIETY.

There are many factors, I’ll just mention a few.

Social networks. They often share only the positive aspects of their lives, creating the illusion of a “perfect life”, which can be misleading in terms of actual mental resilience and well-being. When we look at other people’s accounts, we may start thinking that we are not as fortunate and “perfect”, we are “different”, and we start wanting to be like that. Even if you are a completely normal and happy person. For example, the Pew Research Center found that 40% of young people feel pressured to show only the “perfect” life online, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and lower self-esteem.

Movies. In Western cinema, negative characters are often romanticized, giving them more complex and human traits. For example, the film The Joker shows the protagonist as a complex person with deep psychological problems, while positive characters are often portrayed in a one-sided way. The depth of the personality and imperfect features are perceived as “humanity”.

Think of the Joker and Harley 🃏

Stigma and misunderstanding. There is considerable stigma associated with mental disorders, which leads to misconceptions about what constitutes “normal” mental health. People who openly discuss their problems or have unusual ways of expressing themselves are often wrongly labeled as “not healthy”.

  • Non-standard clothing: A person who wears a plate instead of a hat or wears brightly colored short skirts at the age of 80 may simply be expressing their individuality or have a unique style.
  • Unusual habits: A person who carries their cat in a bag or walks around in a winter hat with summer slates may have their particular reasons for such actions that are not necessarily related to mental health.
  • Dreaminess and slowness: A person who seems slow and dreamy may simply be more reflective or calm by nature.

Society is sensitive to its “norms”. If you stand out from society, you are no longer the same, which can lead to the social label “mentally ill”. Society often quickly and thoughtlessly labels people who differ from generally accepted standards. For example, a person who openly expresses their emotions or swears may be misinterpreted by others.

Insecurity and Envy. Insecurity or envy of successful people sometimes leads to attempts to find an “explanation” for their success. This can take the form of attributing mental disorders to them. This dynamic not only creates a misunderstanding of mental health but also makes mental imbalance a kind of “fashion”. People, wanting to be noticed and valued by society, may unconsciously strive for “instability” in order to stand out. This is how “behavioral fashions” are created. People often envy those who seem to be free internally and allow themselves a little more, which can lead to false attributions about their mental state.

Professionals who thoughtlessly make diagnosesSometimes professionals don’t always think about the consequences of their words, especially when they talk about their clients in public, and tell the patient about their diagnosis in detail that they don’t need. There is a policy that the diagnosis is often more important to the doctor than to the patient. However not all professionals follow these ethical standards, which can create negative conditions in society and the social perception of mental health. (People are good, ethical standards are not invented just to be!!!!)

Excuses for Mental Disorders. Oh, how we love them! Many people use self-diagnosis or misinterpret medical information from the Internet (or any information at all). This can lead to them using the diagnosis as an excuse for their behavior, avoiding working on the real problems. Such behavior not only distorts the understanding of mental disorders but also supports a victim culture, where people seek attention and sympathy because of their “illness”. And for some time, this was a “useful” model of behavior that had developed historically.

The desire to be noticed and appreciated in their society. It is a deeply rooted social instinct that contributes to our survival and social development. We observe the processes in society, looking for clues on how to behave, what to consider “normal” and how to achieve success and recognition. We repeat what stands out, not realizing that it may be the exception rather than the rule.

And now, WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH FROM A PROFESSIONAL’S POINT OF VIEW?

The consequence of professionalism – is the ability to perceive many processes as a spectrum.. That is, there are no good or bad, mentally ill or healthy people. This is the whole spectrum: from complete well-being to serious disorders.
Mental health isnot a static state,,it changes over time and in context. Individual differences, life circumstances, religious and community factors, stress, and other factors affect a person’s mental health. Mental well-being includes the ability to manage one’s emotions, strong interpersonal relationships, adaptation to change, life satisfaction, and the ability to cope with stress.

Normality vs Pathology: There is no clear division between “normal” and “pathological” conditions. Many mental states, such as anxiety or sadness, are a normal part of the human experience and do not immediately become depression, but can become pathological when they interfere with daily life and personal happiness.
In the world of mental health, there is no clear line separating the “healthy” from the “sick”. It is more about meeting certain criteria and degrees of functioning in different areas of life.

People change.
Mental health can change over time, and people can move from one state to another depending on a variety of factors, including treatment, support, personal development, and changes in their living environment. Of course, our task is to be involved in life as often as possible, and to feel balance and happiness, so we work on ourselves.

STATISTICS AND REALITY IN 2023

In 2019, about 970 million people, or 1 out of every 8 people in the world, lived with a mental disorder. The most common were anxiety and depressive disorders.

  • Anxiety disorders: 301 million people, including 58 million children and adolescents.
  • Depression: 280 million people, of whom 23 million are children and adolescents.
  • Bipolar disorder: 40 million people.
  • PTSD: High prevalence in conflict zones.
  • Schizophrenia: It affects 24 million people.
  • Eating disorders: 14 million people.
  • Behavioral disorders: 40 million people.

There are more than 200 diagnoses, you can “choose” the ones you want.

Poverty, violence, illness, disability, inequality, and injustice increase the risk of developing mental disorders. What has happened between 2019 and today? All of the above!

There are no up-to-date statistics yet, so let’s take 2022 as a comparison to understand the dynamics.

As of 2022, approximately one billion people in the world suffer from some kind of mental disorder, according to the UN. Approximately one billion people, or 1 out of every 8 people in the world, have lived with a mental disorder. Anxiety and depressive disorders continued to be the most common.
There is also additional information on the prevalence among adolescents, which tells us that 1 in 7 adolescents suffer from the disorder. During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of common disorders such as depression and anxiety increased by more than 25%.

Shall we talk about Russia and Ukraine?

In January 2023, 54% of Russians aged 18-24 reported depressive symptoms, and this figure increased by 77% after the outbreak of war. In addition, in 2023, CBT clinics noted a 25.9% increase in people with anxiety disorders compared to the same period of the year. I would like to point out that in any unstable mental state, a person is UNABLE to make rational decisions and broadly perceive the world. Also, according to the report, in 2022, social goodwill increased sharply in Ukraine and decreased in Russia.

The state of mental health of Ukrainians in 2022-2023 is problematic. The largest increase in anxiety was among Ukrainians – almost 40% in 2014 and more than 50% in 2022. (We exclude those who left the country after 2014 due to anxiety)
According to the 2022 study, women have worse mental health scores on the WHO scale than men (37 vs. 41), but the study was conducted among people who left the territory of Ukraine, so the results may not reflect the real situation. However, I doubt that the country’s statistics will be much better.

Let me remind you of COVID-19. Thanks to it, we have an “accumulation effect”. Additionally, the decline in birth rates and the increase in mortality due to the pandemic have an impact on the mental health of Ukrainians, as well as on residents of other countries. According to data from 2021, more than 1.2 million people in Ukraine suffer from mental disorders, which is about 3% of the population. However, we should not turn a blind eye to the somewhat “therapeutic” effect of staying at home.

Now let’s get back to bloggers, politicians, and businesses.

There is a theory that tells us that traumatized children achieve more success than normal children. In science, this refers to the concept of “traumatic growth”, which studies how people can succeed and develop after experiencing traumatic events. Some people use their traumatic experiences as a catalyst for personal development and strengthening. They can develop new skills, deepen relationships with others, and find new goals in life. The idea that people who have experienced a loss or disadvantage in childhood (e.g., the loss of parental love) may seek compensation through external success is true. It can be an attempt to fill a painful void with one’s achievements or recognition by society, to get the best results. Prove your worth or find meaning in your life’s difficulties.

Also, people may have a thirst for power as a means of defence as a result of their trauma. Sometimes, they develop a strong desire to control their environment or other people, to surround themselves only with those whom they have trusted for a long time. This may be an attempt to prevent the repetition of painful experiences of the past.

So, is it true that there are no healthy people in the media and business sectors? Bloggers compensate for dislike, politicians are protected by the authorities….

(have we forgotten about other areas, physics, for example, what do physicists compensate for😉?)

Remember what I wrote at the beginning, there are no healthy and sick people. There’s also nothing wrong with realizing your energy. Rather, it is the failure to realize the energy of one’s “traumas”, which everyone has, that can lead to poor health and even death. The only question is how you can realize your inner energy.

People are diverse, in life experience, and outlook on life. Yes, traumas, or just situations in life, hone us as a person. And there is nothing wrong with this exchange: someone has a need to love someone, someone needs to be loved. And this changes with the course of a person’s life. Every person is unique and valuable.

I would like to give you a little cheat sheet of “normalcy” in the end.

You experience a wide range of emotions. It’s normal for you to have mood swings sometimes, and it’s not easy to cope with them.
You adapt to changes in the world, sometimes you do it easily, sometimes you face crises and it is difficult.
Whether or not you experience balance in your life is not a static horizontal line. The ability to find a balance between different aspects of life, such as work, leisure, and family, reflects mental well-being – it’s a super skill that you train all your life.
You are able to feel pleasure and happiness appreciate moments and express your emotions to the fullest.
You are normal if today you are confident, and tomorrow, after a slight failure, you lose some confidence, and after a while, you regain your confidence.
Your life experience and views on life are different from those of other people. This is your right your value and your potential.

We are all too deep to be the “normal” people with a “healthy psyche” that society wants to see. We all have different stories, experiences, and views. And every person deserves respect, understanding, and the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life, regardless of their characteristics or life path and its “external” manifestation. It is better to create social conditions, and productive interpersonal relationships in social groups, so that people feel better and can fully realize themselves, and this is another article ☺️.

Some sources: