America’s mental health crisis is worsening, especially among our nation’s youth. NBC reported that a major children’s hospital in San Diego saw a “30 percent spike in children experiencing mental health crises,” and “some children as young as six have come to the emergency room with thoughts of suicide.”
It’s a similar story across the country, with some states considering involuntary hospitalizations “to confront [the] growing mental health crisis,” as PBS puts it.
What’s behind our skyrocketing rates of mental health disorders? How did our culture get to this point, and why, despite hospitalizations, medication, and therapy, does our collective mental health continue to decline?
As I point out in my new book, “Woke-Proof Your Life: A Handbook on Escaping Modern, Political Madness and Shielding Yourself and Your Family by Living a More Self-Sufficient, Fulfilling Life,” belief or non-belief in God dictates the way people perceive life and live it, and what they perceive life’s objective to be.
A fundamental problem in modern life is that few people take the time to ponder their existence and purpose, and whether their daily habits lead them toward or away from a final product they’ll be satisfied with when, on their deathbed, they reflect upon it.
As our world prioritizes convenience, pleasure, and instant gratification above all else, the contemporary ethos is that “happiness,” manifested in physical and emotional pleasure, is all that matters and is an end in and of itself.
The modern, “woke” world tries to outsmart God — skirting the laws of nature through weight loss pills, happy pills, cosmetic surgeries — anything but practicing the introspection and discipline that have proven from time immemorial to satisfy man’s longing as much as is possible in this world. What the woke reject is that God is the “one weird trick!”
As we know, and as C. S. Lewis so perfectly put it:
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
It’s no coincidence, then, that as America’s belief in God and the Christian faith reaches record lows, so do our happiness levels. For all our astounding technological advancements and widespread material wealth, we, as a nation, have higher depression, fewer friends, and greater alienation than our parents or grandparents.
That’s because we are abandoning Christianity — the linchpin holding Western civilization together since its inception and the one, true source of earthly peace.
Our human appetites are boundless, which is why God provided very clear-cut guardrails for how to moderate ourselves. What society is finding out the hard way is that doing “what makes you happy” through worldly, materialistic, hedonistic pursuits will only lead to more discontent and mental health struggles.
The “secret” to happiness is no secret. God isn’t mean. He didn’t plop us on this planet and wish us luck figuring it out while He burned rubber in His 6-Series on His way back to Heaven.
He’s spelled out in endless ways — through not only Holy Scripture and tradition and the examples of countless holy believers, but through obvious earthly cues as well — how to live in a way that is pleasing to Him.
The reason our mental health problems continue to increase is because, for the most part, people aren’t seeking or being offered the proper prescription. Trusting in God for all things and relying on His grace and mercy reduces people’s anxiety and frees them to be more thoughtful of others.
Author Ericka Andersen studied and wrote about this phenomenon. In a piece for USA Today, Andersen reported:
“Broad-based evidence demonstrates that attendance at worship services is indispensable to a happy, generous, and flourishing society. Pew Research found that actively religious adults are more likely to be happy, volunteer time to good causes, and be more civically involved than non-religious or non-practicing religious folks.”
Andersen told me a Christ and neighbor-centric attitude contributes to the greater good of others, providing for a more emotionally resilient society.
“This community aspect of faith is the most powerful part, in terms of how society is affected overall,” Andersen said. “Those who have a strong faith community are happier, healthier, and more optimistic. [Research] shows that, regardless of life circumstances, those who are committed to consistent faith community fare better in almost every way.”
Such research makes one wonder if we’re experiencing so much a “mental health crisis” as a “lack of God and community crisis”?