There’s been a lot of talk about youth mental health during the pandemic, including a number of prominent voices raising the alarm about this crisis. There have been almost as many voices suggesting that ending things like lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, and just getting “back to normal” will fix this mental health crisis.
I am not one of those voices.
Now let me be clear, I’m not saying that the pandemic hasn’t played a number on mental health for all of us, it clearly has. But, the crisis in mental health for everyone, but especially young people, existed long before COVID-19.
As it turns out, tuning out people who might need some compassion is simply an act of isolation, and isolation is almost never good for our own mental health. By cutting out the people who don’t always offer up those positive vibes, we wind up disconnected and lonely. Which, of course, we can’t share with the people left around us, because we are all living in the nothing negative bubble, so you are now living a very isolated life, which leads to much MORE anxiety, stress, and depression.
I guess I feel a little bit better knowing this at least:
“To stay motivated as we encounter unprecedented levels of uncertainty in every aspect of our lives, we should understand that the human brain simply was not built for this. Knowing what your brain does well — and what it does surprisingly poorly — can give you a much clearer sense of the strategies you need to not just endure, but to thrive.”
On the other hand, it’s not like the uncertainty is just going to go away and I can get back to the levels my brain is OK with. So, what do we do?
As a society, we have, rightfully, tried to move away from doing those things, but we haven’t really gotten better at helping people build resiliency. Is it any wonder that we had an epidemic of anxiety, even before COVID-19? We’ve kind of left people with an uncertain world, in which anything can just randomly happen to anyone, while leaving intact our belief systems that teach us that the world is fair.
It’s not. It’s not even close, and yes part of the reason it isn’t fair is that there are bad people in power doing bad things, but even if we could rid ourselves of that as much as possible, (and we should), the world would still be a random place where random things happen, for no good reason.
There would still be natural disasters, accidents, and yes, even abuse and crime. There would still be people with disabilities, mental and psychical, and there would still be victims. Because we’re human, and being human is kind of messy and random.
That’s not going anywhere. The challenge is to find the resiliency to live our lives anyway. This is where we’ve failed too many people, and where we have failed ourselves, finding comfort in false “explanations” instead of facing the hard truths.