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On “Mental Health”

We, as a society, are not well. Reports on “mental health” in the United States of America, in particular, estimate at least 25% of adult Americans meet the criteria for one or another mental illness. This number has only been increasing in recent decades, despite the large number of professionals who have entered in the field in recent decades. Why?

It seems, indeed, that the prevalence of mental disturbance has risen unabated. The rates of suicide have risen, and continue to do so. Likewise, the number of persons using mood-altering medicine to alleviate the symptoms of these disturbances. But, while many therapists offer thoughtful assistance, and the use of some medications may be fruitful in controlling the worst of symptoms in the most desperate of times, it seems the problem continues unabated.

The facile etiology of this increasing crisis is to blame conditions of the world: the inescapable permeation of all life by the rapid pace of technologically-mediated culture. Television. The internet. The smartphone. There can be no doubt that a 24-hour news cycle undermined our well-being. Likewise, the frantic fractious flurry of Twitter—there is no place better to break your mind by a thousand conflicting opinions and false reports during a crisis. The culture produced by this technological inundation has resulted in a profound inability to dwell in reality.

But technology, though an instrument of our mental ailing, is exacerbative rather than originating. The ailment, in other words, is already there.

What then, truly, is the cause of the “mental health crisis”? This will be the topic of our Philosophical Happy Hour on 7 June 2023. Everyone is welcome to join. Questions we will explore include:

  • How are we to define “mental health”? A common definition, proposed by the World Health Organization, is “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.” Is this a good definition? Why (not)?
  • Is the very concept suggested by the phrase “mental health” good or bad? Does it suggest, in our current culture, a kind of “mechanistic” approach to the psyche?
  • Does our technology condemn us to an ever-worsening mental condition?
  • What can we do?

We look forward to discussing these and other questions with you!

Philosophical Happy Hour

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Come join us for drinks (adult or otherwise) and a meaningful conversation. Open to the public! Held every Wednesday from 5:45–7:15pm ET.