The individual and mental health
As an individual, your mental health is your own responsibility. No one else is responsible for connecting you with the resources you need or forcing you to do the work necessary to overcome your biggest mental health challenges.
But what exactly does this mean for you? And why is it such an important concept?
Excuses for Intervention
Too often, people look to the State for solutions to our current mental health crisis. People all over the country are struggling with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), so it's only natural that people are looking for possible remedies or ways to reverse the momentum here. But turning to the State is always a bad idea.
That's partially because the State is always looking for an excuse to exert control and intervene. People in government are always looking for reasons to increase the size and scope of government, so they introduce new laws and regulations apparently designed to solve problems — when in reality, they create additional problems.
Take, for example, these government interventions (both current and planned):
- Drug prohibition. The U.S. federal government takes an active role in prohibiting and regulating drugs, and these initiatives have been especially bad ever since the so-called "war on drugs." While we can all agree that certain substances have the potential to be harmful, we also need to acknowledge the many harmless and beneficial drugs that have been unfairly closed off from public accessibility and scientific study. We are only now studying the potentially healing power of psychedelics; how much farther would we be if we had started 60 years ago?
- Mental Health Parity and beyond. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) is a federal law that requires health insurance providers to provide mental health service coverage equal to its physical health service coverage. On the surface, this seems like a great idea, and it certainly has benefited many people. But it also complicates a mangled insurance system that is already too complicated.
- Social media regulation. Social media create echo chambers, encourage people to isolate themselves, and set false standards that leave people feeling unworthy and depressed. Unfortunately, many government officials have taken this as motivation to regulate social media. If the government is given more control over how social media operate and how people use them, these effects could grow even worse.
- Welfare, UBI, and other forms of support. It's undeniable that living in poverty can exacerbate mental illness for a variety of reasons. But the solution isn't to continue accelerating the welfare state. As any libertarian economist can tell you, welfare, Universal Basic Income (UBI), and other social assistance programs typically keep people trapped in poverty, rather than giving them a way out.
The Individual's Path to Better Mental Health
So if the government isn't going to assist you with your mental health needs, how can the individual step up and create a path to better mental health?
- Finding a therapist. According to Manhattan Mental Health Counseling, therapists are more affordable and more available than ever before. It may be your individual responsibility to take action on your mental health, but there's no shame in enlisting the services of a trained professional to help you. Together with a therapist, you can explore your mental health issues in a comfortable, reassuring environment and develop new strategies to cope with stress and uncertainty in your life.
- Practicing better lifestyle habits. While simple lifestyle changes can't quickly fix severe mental illnesses, many lifestyle improvements can help you be mentally healthier. For example, exercising more, eating healthier foods, and socializing more frequently are all associated with better mental health.
- Connecting with friends and family members. Reach out to your friends and family members. Create tighter-knit communities and truly engage with them.
- Spending more time in nature. Spending more time in nature is associated with becoming kinder, happier, and more creative. It's also the perfect excuse to get away from the digital screens that dominate your life.
- Tapping into local community resources. If you need more external support, look to community resources and voluntary efforts. For example, you can congregate with other members of your religion or attend support group meetings.
The Bottom Line
The State is a tyrannical, or at least flawed force that should not be trusted to solve the mental health crisis in the United States. You could even make the argument that government intervention is partially responsible for the increased numbers of mental health sufferers. If you're going to improve your own mental health and support the mental health of the people around you, it's your individual responsibility to take action. Don't rely on anyone else to bail you out.