The Mind is Not Well…

The stats simplify the reality of this context in which we are living.

The mind is not doing well. The mind is not doing well, at all.

The heart is unsure how to help the mind cope with the world in which we are living.

Even without seeing the stats, or doing any kind of research, you can feel it in the air; something has shifted, and we’re not fine.  

We are tenants of a time wherein suicide is the leading cause of death amongst Australians aged 15 to 24 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). 

The climate of our early years, and this place in which we’ve ended up, are vastly different. It feels like we’re picking up the pieces every single day.

In 2007, Headspace revealed nine per cent of Australia’s youth (12-25) displayed signs of psychological distress. Fast forward 11 years, and this rate has tripled to a staggering 32 per cent of young adults feeling overwhelmed.  

With each data point, we’re compelled to pause and assess what these numbers actually mean. Yes, they give us an insight into the mental health space, but it goes without saying: this is only a piece of an intricate puzzle.

As we unravel how we’re feeling – and why we’re feeling – these emotions, it is important to evaluate what has led to this outcome.

There’s an innate part of me that questions whether our psyches are simply products of their time. As things – the rolling waves of life – become ever-greater, undulating and extreme, do our thoughts likewise take on a more significant form? As life intensifies… well, isn’t it only natural that our worries keep in step? Our way of life is progressing, facilitated by technological advancements, and as such, our priorities move and shake. We no longer need to stress about satisfying those basic needs, such as hunting or fending away wild creatures; rather, now, in order to thrive as humans, we yearn for obstacles of another calibre. The result? Increased pressure for self-fulfilment, levied by ourselves, on ourselves.

The undercurrent flowing through this day and age is a human drive to find some kind of purpose – our reason for existing, and our coinciding place in this world. But, people’s idea of success and meaning has rapidly changed over the years. Moreover, we now have a gadget to compare how well we’re all doing in this life.

What once made our parents happy, no longer brings unadulterated joy into our lives. They craved stability: a nine-to-five job, steady income, marriage and children, a dog and the house-with-the-white-picket-fence. The whole kit and caboodle. But, when we look at Gen Y and Z, the priorities are different. There’s a declining rate of millennials buying homes or tying the knot. Indeed, house prices are increasing, and the thought of home ownership is a daunting (and ostensibly unattainable) concept for many. Also, a tertiary degree no longer translates to work. You might attain that oh-so-holy sheet of paper, but not secure a job… and that’s scary. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle: we’re piecing the bits together in another way and creating a reality that is different from that in which our parents existed.

Today, the hallmarks of a youngster: love of travel; focusing on the ‘now’ rather than the ‘then’; finding ourselves before committing to finding someone else.

As we try and make sense of this complicated and crazy world, it’s an absolute necessity to know that the mind feels discomfort. Never has it been so important to find ways to express the frustration, sadness and restlessness we may be experiencing. For now, the mind is not doing well, but the mind must also be armed with the knowledge that it will eventually be okay… it just takes a while for us to relax and feel at ease.