Obviously, there may be a number of contributing factors to the rise, but this article lays out some interesting thoughts.
“Empirical studies bear this out. A felt lack of meaning in one’s life has been linked to alcohol and drug abuse, depression, anxiety and — yes — suicide. And when people experience loss, stress or trauma, it is those who believe that their lives have purpose who are best able to cope with and recover from distress.
How do we find meaning and purpose in our lives? There are many paths, but the psychological literature suggests that close relationships with other people are our greatest existential resource. Regardless of social class, age, gender, religion or nationality, people report that the life experiences they find most personally meaningful typically involve loved ones.”
This really fits with what we are learning about young people being disconnected from each other, and I think it also fits with what we see played out in a great many places as we continue to divide and pull away from anyone who doesn’t agree with us all the time. All of this is bad for our mental health. While it may not be the only answer, I don’t think we can argue that rates of depression, anxiety, etc. are through the roof, in ways we have not seen before. Clearly, something has changed.
Ironically, we may be living in a time when we have constant access and bombardment of news stories designed to make us feel anxious and pay attention, and fewer people around us to process that with and give it all meaning. That’s scary.
What should we do to encourage more people to stay connected to each other, and part of a community that brings them purpose?