Every Oct. 10, celebrities, politicians, and bureaucrats get together to performatively raise awareness for “World Mental Health Day.” This year, Selena Gomez, the multi-millionaire who produced a documentary last year about her mental health struggles, is using today as an opportunity to promote her beauty brand. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy went on “The Today Show” to claim bolstering the surveillance state will somehow solve the mental health crisis. Estranged ex-royals Harry and Meghan are set to host a “Mental Wellness in a Digital Age” summit, which will no doubt be used to complain more about mean tweets and negative media attention directed at the couple.
By every metric, these mental health advocates are correct that we are experiencing a mental health crisis. Rates of loneliness, depression, and suicide have skyrocketed over the last few decades, particularly among young people. But for all their posturing, none of the starlets and political leaders seem interested in genuinely solving the mental health crisis. “Awareness,” expensive government programs, pills, and Meghan Markle sob stories are not solutions to a mental health crisis driven by poor lifestyle choices and spiritual warfare.
A new study from Vrije University in Amsterdam suggests that running is a better cure for anxiety and depression than antidepressant pills. Yet countless Americans are taking mood disorder medications that serve to enrich Big Pharma instead of naturally addressing their psychological struggles.
Running isn’t even a requirement. Any form of physical exercise — including simply walking — will boost your mood and lower your risk of mental illness. A UK study published in 2020 evaluated 152,978 individuals by measuring their physical fitness and assessing their mental health. The researchers found that those with low cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength had a 98 percent higher chance of experiencing depression and a 60 percent higher chance of experiencing anxiety.
How you nourish your body also plays a major role in mental health. Diets high in refined sugar debilitate brain function and can contribute to various mental health conditions. Studies show that the risk of depression is 25 to 35 percent lower in those who eat a traditional diet instead of the modern, highly processed Western diet.
Faith and Family
While diet and exercise are sometimes included in mental health discussions, rarely, if ever, is faith. It shouldn’t be surprising that Gen Z — the most mentally ill generation to date — is also the most irreligious generation to date. Today, many “Christians” are Christian in name only. Indeed, we are seeing a rise in “cultural Christians” — people who do not believe in foundational Christian doctrine or values and merely self-identify as Christian. This phenomenon wasn’t helped by the Covid lockdowns, which irrevocably damaged religious gathering attendance.
Ultimately, religion provides people with a set of values to guide them through life. It keeps families together and forges communal bonds. Without it, people are lost.
The tendency to treat symptoms and not root causes is not restrictive to Western medicine; it’s emblematic of Western culture at large. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a government program aimed at battling the mental health crisis in “vulnerable populations, including youth,” has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the years.
However, according to Federalist Contributor Corey Kendig, “Research shows that in most cases, MHFA [mental health] training in students does not improve students’ mental health. In some case studies, MHFA has even been shown to decrease the mental health of students.”
Not only is the federal government ineffective, but it is also creating entirely new and dystopian problems in its attempt to address mental health conditions. Just like during the Covid “crisis,” the government is seizing on the mental health crisis to amass power and violate civil liberties.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s 81-page advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” outlines how advancing government control and surveillance within the digital sphere and Americans’ communities and personal lives will combat the loneliness epidemic. However, Orwellian measures, such as infiltrating tech companies and promoting 15-minute smart cities, will only widen bureaucratic power.
Moreover, the idea that the federal government could solve the mental health crisis is extremely ironic. As Federalist Senior Contributor Stella Morabito points out, “Government policies are largely to blame for family breakdown, welfare dependency, urban blight, attacks on free speech, attacks on privacy, and countless other developments that result in an acute sense of isolation and polarization.”
People don’t need more mental health “awareness.” What they need are lifestyle changes. Instead of coddling mental fragility, culture should promote mental toughness by encouraging people to be disciplined, exercise, and eat whole, unprocessed foods.
The government needs to stop funding pointless government programs and invasive surveillance projects and instead support families by eliminating policies that promote single motherhood. The government also needs to allow communities, particularly faith communities, to flourish by never again shutting down religious institutions in the name of a “crisis” lockdown.
Finally, the last thing anyone struggling with mental health issues needs is a lecture from Harry and Megan. If you care about your mental health, don’t sit on the couch listening to a pointless mental well-being summit — get outside, go for a run or walk, say a prayer, and spend time with your family.