Opinion: The mental health fallacy is hurting our generation | Opinion

It was at the end of the spring semester of 2021 that I was confronted with the madness of our ideas about mental health. On a walk to the Union to pick up a package and lunch, one of the proselytes in yellow from The Point Ministry walked up to me with outstretched arms, offering, “Bubble wrap? ”

Normally my protocol is to ignore anything they come up with, but this time it was different. After a brief exchange, I learned that the satisfying “pop” of the packaging was meant to soothe the mind and promote that legendary “sanity”. I thought about the interaction with my chicken sandwich before I picked up my package (which, ironically enough, was banged up due to a lack of bubble wrap) and headed back to my dorm.

It sounds like an innocuous little anecdote, but the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I felt. This idea that our psychological well-being is so delicate that it is defenseless without the healing effects of tiny dots of plastic is damaging and borderline offensive.

If even Christians – the people who have learned to carry their cross and love it – get into this mental health trend, then it must be incredibly pervasive.

Mental health is not just a Baptist concept, of course. The buzzword has dominated public discourse in recent years, with increasing calls for treating psychological well-being as being of equal importance to physical health.

However, this is where the problem lies. Our perception of mental health is actually very different from our perception of physical health. Rather than thinking of mental exercise and training the same way we think of the physical conditioning necessary for fitness, we think of it as an entirely separate discipline, following a completely different set of rules. Our brain can grow like a muscle, and yet we let it atrophy.

In physical condition, a few key factors are highlighted: training, recovery and refueling. Training is the part that people focus on the most; you can listen to anything from Van Halen to Wu Tang and throw weights (or yourself) for an hour or two. Recovery is the boring part, but the most enjoyable part, as your only goal is not to overwork the systems and structures that you have recently trained. Refueling is the most boring but the most integral part, where you cook chicken and broccoli for the hundredth time while watching the Hungry Howie ad you received in the mail, all to make sure your body receives the energy and components it needs.

Our current treatment of mental health, however, forgoes this sequence of steps and focuses exclusively on recovery. We advocate “mental health days,” where we reject our obligations to ourselves and our peers in favor of taking time to recover from the daily stresses of life.

Of course, knowing when to relax is the hallmark of a healthy person, but if our ideas about mental health fail to develop beyond rest, we are seriously wrong.

Take, for example, someone lying on their futon, washing hot Cheetos and mint Oreos with a two-liter coke while eating the Daniel Craig Bond movies (not that I know of what that looks like). If this totally fictional person told us that she was taking a break from her physical health, we would think their twentieth viewing of “Specter” would ultimately have burned their brains out.

But, for mental health, this increasingly seems to be the case. Instead of emphasizing a balance between proper training, recovery, and fueling, our only concern when promoting this concept is recovery: protecting ourselves from anything that might stress our mental faculties. Obviously, if we don’t get into this mental work – whether it’s intellectual, emotional, or spiritual – then all of our focus on relaxation will be of no use, and when we are faced with a situation that will bring you down. test our mental capacities. , we’re gonna fuck each other.

If Nietzsche was right and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, it goes without saying that what makes it easier for us can make us weaker.

This could be a disaster for the younger generations in particular, as this whole trend, mostly being about nice things, is only going to get more and more extreme if we don’t stop it soon. Yes, the “Gen Z is Lazy and Authorized” trope is played, but without the desire to strengthen our spirits, we may soon have a truly lazy and empowered generation – a role already abundantly filled by baby boomers.

Make no mistake, I don’t want to give up on a better societal understanding of the importance of serious mental health. However, I don’t see anything serious about our current mental health fallacy.

Haden DeVilbiss is a second year history and psychology student from Lake Charles.

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