We are very much aware of how our physical environment affects our lifestyle, particularly our health, but this is not the only environment that affects us. Last week we had mental health awareness week in which people with various forms of mental illness spoke about the effects their illness had on them and their lives. This was great as it made us more aware of the problems connected with this unseen illness.
Is this enough? We are told that the rate of mental illness, particularly depression, is rising at previously unrecorded levels. When the rate of respiratory illness rises we automatically look towards the quality of the air we are breathing. One of the motivators to get rid of smog is the effect it will have on the health of the population. Might depression have a similar contributory cause?
I can’t help wondering why we don’t look for a cause with this current increase in mental health problems. We know that the media now reaches more people than ever before and more quickly. Why doesn’t anyone connect the two? The fact that we get news almost instantaneously makes it even more potent. If something really good happens and we become aware of it almost straight away it can brighten our day because the fact that it has just happened makes it more realistic. Something that happened a few days or several weeks ago seems less real to us, less part of our lives.
If we have this approach then what we see on the daily news becomes a much more important part of our lives. The trouble is that what we see is usually not good news, with constant shootings and murder. I would like to see producers of news, whether it be radio or television or newspapers look at what they are producing with fresh eyes. How many ‘bad’ news stories are there compared with ‘good’ ones? There seem to be very few of the latter.
I would love to see news program producers in any form make sure that they have at least one good news story with every edition of a bulletin. Would this have any effect on the level of depression so many people suffer from? Surely it would be worth a try? Would we have the same level of depression in the community if we were made aware that we actually live in a loving caring world in which we matter?