News of a suicide within our community last year, while crushing to all who knew him, points to a social problem usually out of sight.
This pandemic put a spotlight on the weaknesses of our public mental-health services and institutions.
Mental stresses build up within most situations, but the lockdown and other limitations have turned up the pressure cookers everywhere. We’re seeing the start of a flood of mental stresses and breakdowns. Things are already tense south of the border, where the pandemic was less-well managed: daily mass shootings. These results may prove more destructive to our communities and personal lives than the pandemic itself. Effects can go on forever and affect every economic field, occupation and education level, every income level, age, background.
One of many reasons the world struggled so much with Covid is because we had let our health systems decline, losing many people at almost every stage (except on managerial levels!). Nations all have cut health funding (in real dollars), thanks to the old Reagan-Thatcher-Harper ideology of strangling government, tax breaks for the wealthy, and cutting social services.
Ours is a big, dispersed population to serve, with health risks coming from all directions –plus we all feel entitled to the best, everywhere, at all times!
The social costs of mental illness today illustrate the dangers of old-fashioned and self-contradictory ideologies of government cutbacks, centralizations, and privatizations.
And around the next corner? Today’s stresses and breakdowns illuminate an awful future.
Talk abut anti-social behaviour (and their costs). Addictions, petty crime, violence, enslavements, poverty and poor education are all intertwined with mental illnesses. Jailing is an emergency response only; it won’t help the down-and-out. And this says nothing about the physical costs to lives, buildings, cooperation and trust.
Perhaps we should appreciate Covid-19! It is showing us what should be crystal clear already: our modern complex, fast-paced, unequal societies are generating stresses, expectations and demands which many people cannot handle. So, in the short-term, each of us should exercise as much kindness and tolerance as possible.
Constant anger and irritability are warning signs.
It’s heartless and poor governance to require people in mental crisis to wait months — months! — merely to see a counsellor or other source of help. There’s an honest message from Covid.