Anonymous – Year 12 Student
Editor’s note: A Year 12 student who wishes to remain anonymous writes here in response to the thought-provoking psychology essay title set for the New College of the Humanities essay competition, 2021. ‘Discuss the sources of mental health issues in the modern world’ – what are your thoughts on this important issue? CPD
The WHO defines mental health as, “the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of the individuals,” but I like to define mental health in my own way: the defeat of humanity when trying to conquer Outer Space instead of our Inner Space: our minds and hearts. In this modern society, one in six people suffer from the same mental health problem showing that this has a cause, which directly links to how the WHO additionally states in their explanation that, “physical, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual and other interrelated factors participate in producing this balance”. I know teenagers are not the only people with mental health, but I will like to take this discussion through a journey of personal experience because you cannot tell a situation without having insights on the matter – but I feel like I do.
The sources of mental health can be said to be many, but not all of them are well discussed without having a bias view of other things. In this modern era, everyone is secretly fighting battles that we will not even admit to ourselves due to cultural indoctrination, the trends and the evolution of technology. I am a teenager too and maybe I should not be defaming the privilege that I was born in and the advancement of the world like the creation of technology, but that is one of the spirits we are fighting with too. Many would say technology is good, isn’t it? Everyone knows that nothing is perfect not even technology, it has one of the biggest defects the world has seen. Research even shows that the owner and creator of our own World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners Lee, has minor regrets for his accomplishment and to help the world. Even though the World Wide Web serves the sole purpose to help humanity find any answer anywhere, everywhere, Mr. Berners then states “We demonstrated the Web failed, instead of serving humanity as it’s supposed to have done, and failed in many places”. I am not here to defame our beloved technology, search engines, forgetting about how it has improved living, but on the other side, it has also ruined living. We have overused this privilege and turned it into a monster that is now eating us back. I am not speaking for everyone, but after I received my first phone, I blanked out the world. It was as if it was my new best friend. Yes, it helped me keep safe, informed me of issues but it pushed me away from people so far that when I needed a hand I barely had anyone. I abused it, and this seems to be something that most people do, abuse something until there is no escape. Subjects to modernity. I am not going to be controversial, but something I need to do with all my generation is moderate how and how much we use our devices, if no one will say it I will.
Mental health for most begins when the culture of this world defines them and confines in a fake reality that people need to be perfect – not knowing that there is nothing perfect on this Earth. Media has also trapped us into this black hole of lies. I support the media. ‘Yay, free speech!’ – but an individual has sat down and determined how I should look, dress, speak and even told me that I will never amount to anything. Why, you may ask; well, because I am a black young woman trying to make it in life without trying to pretend and being a slave to culture. In this modern society, I feel personally like teenagers have a lot of pressure, from parents controlling our lives to be able to protect us from harm, to the media convincing us that we need to rebel, become someone we are not. We have a daily checklist we need to make sure we meet because we want acceptance from the world and its people. The feeling of needing to be perfect, strong, have everything together and having a plan when you just want to break down, but that makes you weak. People have a mentality that people with mental health issues are people pretending for attention; one thing is, there is no pretense but they really need that help, but society has rewritten the script and wrote them as attention seekers. That is one of the sources. We reject people because they need love and in these modern times, especially my generation, majority take love as being weak, attention seeking, and that causes you to shut down completely, leaving you no option but to bottle in until you try to find other solutions. There has been an increase in mental health issues in teenagers ever since we have idolized technology and made them the monarchy over our lives. Given people dictatorship over our every move. Many people say that their depression and mental health is an issue to them especially when their stressed over people’s opinion or stressed from the culture of the world. The media has bad the biggest influence on this generation especially. Everyone wants to be famous, known and rich but they do not know the implications and the work that come with these titles. We hide under masks, fake to be who we are now, then when we need help we find it hard because that’s not who people know me for. We have cracks all over but we tape our rough edges together thinking no one will know or see , but we do not realise that before or after we will burst and we need people to help us back up.
There might not be a clear source of mental health or one cause that affects everyone, but there is an antidote. Yes, there are medical remedies, therapy, other things – but I feel like the best, and the one that is 100% efficient, is being around people you love and love you back. To find people like that is hard in this society but you have to hold tight to them when you have them because they are trying to help you and get you through the hard times. This can be seen through this lockdown. The weather has an impact but when segregated from the people they trust and rely on daily, away from being able to talk to them and have physical contact they shut down. An example of this is the 18 students that took their own lives after complaining about mental health in a nine months old lockdown in New Mexico. If only they had a shoulder, if only one helped them to open up and people finally became real and stopped pretending, judging, maybe we would all feel safe to speak up. If the pretense and the judgements stopped, if maybe people were more honest and we liberated ourselves from the enslavement of modern society and its defected culture, maybe then we would be free and we would speak up. Maybe after all that would be the cure. The cure to Mental Health and the cure to our infected world.
I know this was more of a story than a report, far from a research but I am the research. I am the child who has once suffered mental health, seen others suffer and helped others through their suffering. I am a black young teenager trapped in a prison confinement of a five by six technological object. It might have helped me but caused me pain too, because it exposed me to the modern society and the requirements needed to redeem me “fit”. There was a time I said, “I am trapped in a world where I am judged by media and defined through my flaws. Where wrong is right and right is wrong. I am trapped and there is nothing I can do but to just sit and watch because I do not want to be the one that speaks up. I will be alone because everyone is afraid”. I still believe I am because modern society is the cause of the increase of mental health. Modern society added more sources, which increased mental health. It has been there since long before me and maybe before all of us but we have all contributed to affect others’ lives though culture.