The Global Mental Health Issue

As many will know, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park recently committed suicide. This triggered a train of rambling thoughts, so I thought I’d write some of it down.

Linkin Park – In The End

This is one of my favourite LP songs. I remember when I was learning to drum, I would put on Linkin Park at maximum volume on my headphones and smash away on my $500 Ashton kit (probably part of the reason why my hearing is now on par with a 50 year old).

I listened to the lyrics, but was probably too young to really process the meaning behind them. Chester committing suicide made me realise how you can really hear how he was expressing his inner demons through his music throughout the years. It’s somewhat mind-boggling to think of how many high profile people take their lives. These are those who we, as a society, perceive as having it all. The fame, the money, and in a lot of cases, like Chesters, a loving family.

This goes to show that mental health is an issue amongst the human race as a whole, not just those in certain parts of our social ladder. I find it hard to understand how we have trillion dollar budgets for physical health problems but still seem to take a secondary stance to mental health.

“The body can not live without the mind.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

It’s OK to tell everyone that you’ve done an ankle, or are feeling sick but it’s often much further down the process that we find out someone we know is struggling internally. Like many of us, I’ve witnessed first hand the effects of an unwell mind. Often, the problem is addressed far further down the path than it should have been. To fix these issues, you identify the cause, treat it appropriately and work on a recovery plan. No different than going to the hospital. And, much like a cancer, we can’t identify why it’s affected this particular person instead of the next, but we accept that it has and work from there to help that person as much as possible. People hear the news, support floods in, procedures start and recovery is celebrated without a hint of stereotyping or judgement occurring, ever.

Why don’t we view mental health in the same light? I have friends that I know are going through considerable struggles right now. Hell, I think everyone does at some point. However, they feel they can only confide this to a few people, for they somehow feel embarrassed or hopeless. Embarrassed for being perceived as weak, and hopeless for feeling that nothing can be done.

You’re not weak! You’re human. You’re not the only one that is struggling. And it’s only temporary. It can be fixed, just like anything else. Causes and contributing factors can be mitigated, support is given and changes are made. You don’t have to deal with it alone.  People are here to be with you. Find someone you trust and open up. You’re only human. We’re all on the same mission as you. We’ll get you through it.

In relation, I think with this communication age we live in, we are needing to adapt to new feelings, senses and feedback at a rate that’s much quicker than what our ancestors have ever had to deal with. Personal validation and decision verification are now sought instantly by others, the result being a combination of algorithms, timing, presentation and statistics. In short, I feel we’ve developed a society of judgement. I think it’s harder now than ever before to seek peace either within or through communication with another being on a genuine level.

As well as living in an age of judgement, the problem is compounded by the fact it’s harder to learn how to accept yourself, and all associated quirks and traits as who you are. Idealistic expectations are displayed around us as an indication of who we should be. In order to reach a level of internal reassurance I think you’ve really got to separate any influence from other people and mark yourself on your own moral and intrinsic beliefs and realise you are who you are.

The amount of exposure to the achievements and success of others is at an all time high. Happiness is perceived as a result of being the best, with photos, statistics and rewards as indicators. While this drives development as a society, we’re all different. I think it’s important that we all remember that intrinsic human emotions and connection are as much of a priority as achievements. Everyone wants to feel at ease, and be loved for who they are.

There’s no reason for us to have to do this alone. As I grow older, I realise how important it is to establish a close and trustworthy circle of friends. Those friends aren’t just good for drinking with on a Thursday or playing golf on Saturday. They are critical to our personal development and reassurance. My primary school principal said to us on our last day, “Choose your friends wisely.” That statement becomes more and more relevant as the years go by. Choose your friends and open up to them. These friends are the ones who are your safe zone, the ones who will help us develop as our own being while the rest of the world continues to judge us as another brick in the wall.

Upsets in your mental health doesn’t mean you have something wrong with you. It means there are influences and paradigms that need to be changed, and that can be done through communication and falling back on your loved ones. Not every person is born with a set of skills embedded into their brains to help them fix every issue and anomaly they encounter. Don’t be afraid to let your support network do what it’s there for.

– Damo