Until very recently everybody’s been bandying about the statistic that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health issue at some time in our life. This statistic comes from a study carried out in 1979! So you might say it’s somewhat out of date.
The Mental Health Foundation, who organise Mental Health Awareness Week, carried out a survey in March 2017, which found that nearly two thirds of people have had a mental health problem at some point in their life. That’s a bit more like what we’d all expect! In some ways an even scarier statistic coming from the survey is that only 13% of people report living with high levels of mental health.
Whichever way you look at that it’s pretty appalling. So why are we struggling when as a society we’ve never been safer or wealthier? What’s going on?
There’s a study called The Happiness Index, which compares the happiness levels amongst different countries and it’s quite enlightening. A lot of the happiest countries are relatively poor; they can put food on the table and have a roof over the heads, but they are not wealthy. I think there are 3 reasons for this, which we in the West could learn from:
- They do not have the same level of aspirations that we have. They know they will never have a Ferrari, so they don’t aspire to one!
- They have 3 generations of their family in the same village. Their support system is right on their doorstep
- They tend to be religious and have “get-togethers”, like saints’ festivals every month. They have a real sense of community
If you break those three advantages down, they come down to money and people.
Whether we like it or not, we are brought up in the West to focus on money, with the underlying belief that the more money we have, the happier we will be. Actually a simpler life would seem to produce far more happiness, but we spurn a simple life.
The vast majority of people are spending the majority of their waking life at work in order to pay the bills. They have never thought about what they actually want out of life, which means they inevitably end up living a shallow life, easily prone to mental health issues.
Human beings are actually hard-wired for connection and community. We generate positive hormones when we spend time with people.
However one of the biggest but hidden problems in Western society is loneliness. We’re too busy to spend time with family and friends. Also thanks to political social engineering, geographic mobility has separated us from our family.
At The Mark Newey Method, we help people to realise who and what is important to them in their life; it’s rarely money and the people who matter are family and a very few special friends,