Been seeing so many charts & graphs comparing the US to other countries – related to all things from video games played/sold, to # of households where both parents are working. Everyone is trying to find some silver bullet thread that brings meaning & understanding to this epidemic we’re having.
Opinion here, but I don’t think we can compare the US to any other country – & actually hold other factors as “controls,” given how different the culture is here, vs other areas of the world. Bc of how different our culture is, the SAME factors affect us & our kids differently than they do in other countries.
I recognize how lucky I’ve been to study & travel abroad in college….to travel all over working in sports…& to now travel once again (even internationally) w this advocacy work. When you travel that much (other than destroying your knees on economy class flights), you learn so much abt the differences in cultures.
The other thing is – given my age, I grew up at an interesting time – when we had nothing but Atari & the streets to play in, to now seeing a world where smart phones are attached to our/our kid’s hands & push notifications rule our days.
Here’s the thing: as human beings, we are wired NEEDING two things (outside of the obvious) – & those two things are 1) a sense of belonging & 2) purpose. Without those two, we fall apart, mentally & are susceptible to disorder, manipulation, ideologies, etc. There’s an emptiness we try to fill w/o those two needs met.
Before any of this PTSD stuff happened to me & I took such an interest in learning abt it, I managed sales staffs at sports teams. In the pic here, you see a few members of my staff w the @suns. We had abt 10 on that staff, & in the plaque they gave me (blown up bigger on the last slide), they wrote “Thanks for helping us tell a story.”
There was a gut instinct when I was fortunate to manage these staffs, that more than $, & more than individual accolades – purpose at work meant telling a great story, together. In our case w the Suns, that story came from the fact that our team went from the Western Conference Finals, to struggling on the court. We wanted to therefore be the top performing group sales team in the league, making sure we continued a franchise sell-out streak, despite how many fans had dropped season tickets bc of poor on-court performance. We wanted to “tell that story” to the rest of the league, that you could overcome a big drop in team performance & still be successful in the stands.
As humans we need to belong. We need purpose. Going back to the campfires w ancient man, we sat around, told stories in community & each man & each woman had roles that gave them purpose.
In today’s US “rat race” of a world, everything seems to be abt getting what you desire materialistically, getting it sooner than everyone else, & getting it bigger & better than anyone else. Our companies our broken – they have employees work long hours, & reward mostly based on financial performance, solely. Everything is more expensive & to keep up these lifestyles we have to work longer hours, & multi-task way more.
Our kids (look back to the recent college payments scandal), need to keep up w the other kids. There is more pressure on them than ever. They are working their butts off to get into schools they can’t afford, just to live in debt for years after they graduate. And when they do have down time, they are spending it connected only through apps & technology, or worse, isolated on their phones & computers watching YouTube & playing video games.
Here’s my main point – in the US, bc of what we have prioritized, & bc of the time we put into those priorities, & the way we live & the way we work – we’re doing anything but making ourselves feel 1) like we belong to bigger groups & 2) like we have purpose. THESE are two of the BIG reasons why we are seeing MH complication rates on the rise, & sadly, why we see susceptibility to manipulation, various hateful ideologies on the rise. We are a broken society that’s prioritized the wrong things. And these “other” factors that everyone is measuring country to country, is like comparing apples to oranges bc our susceptibility here, to harmful things, at all ages, is much greater.
Take a stroll on La Rambla in Barcelona (yes I know there are a lot of tourists but there are also a lot of indigenous folks). Watch ppl eat dinner on weeknights & sit & talk & enjoy each other’s company for 3 hours at a time. It’s a far cry from what’s become our norm here in the US. I know nowhere is perfect…but I also know we are moving further & further away from fulfilling those two basic needs that all humans have, here in the US.