What age are we living in? The age of the mind

“You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves.” ― Sōseki Natsume, Kokoro

I was talking to a friend the other evening about what age we were living in. Our parents experienced the mass production industrial age and for most of us younger people, we have experienced the age of computers and automation which have brought so much change to our daily lives. We then reflected on the level of change we were experiencing as human beings now. At nearly all levels there have been fantastic and far-reaching changes, bar one, that of mental health.So what are the are the areas of change?

Social and political change: Social changes in terms of civil and same sex partnerships; the reduction in issues around age, sex, and race discrimination (though we have a long way to go); and the gradual acceptance of people’s differences. Political change including many countries across Europe closing their borders – often with barriers and barbed wire to the influx of mass migration; the UK Brexit result; the recent US presidential election outcome or even the prospect of the USA and Russia in a major conflict.

Technology change: The level of technology change over the past 5 years has been amazing on so many levels. Since we both liked tech, we shared the list below. If you have better ideas, do share:

  • Android (2008) – Google’s open-source mobile operating system started showing up in smartphones until 2008, it rapidly became the only serious challenger to Apple’s mobile hegemony, and eventually it became the dominant mobile platform.
  • Apps (2008) – first launched by Apple as the App Store. There are now many different App stores.
  • Motion-sensing control systems (2010) such as Microsoft Kinect which launched in  2010.
  • Tablets replacing PC’s (2010) – it wasn’t until Apple launched the iPad in 2010 that the computer-buying public began to catch on.

However, one area that we then talked about was health. The past few years has seen a massive change in the perception of physical health. Be it exercise; recommending you eat a minimum of 5 portions of fruit / vegetables per day, called “5 per Day”; and the drive to reduce smoking, especially amongst teenagers. However, mental health has not had the same set of priorities awarded to it as has physical health.

Well being and Mental Wellbeing: With regard to mental health improvements, I get the feeling we are still in the mass production industrial age. The most common form of mental support is Cognitive Therapy (CT), or Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which was pioneered by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. This seems to be the defacto method for treating mental issues.

So why focus on Mental Well-Being?

Here are some facts….. If you want to read more, please check out the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS article at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Mental-Health-Taskforce-FYFV-final.pdf

  • Half of all mental health problems have been established by the age of 14, rising to 75 per cent by age 24.
  • One in ten children aged 5 – 16 has a diagnosable problem such as conduct disorder (6 per cent), anxiety disorder (3 per cent), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (2 per cent) or depression (2 per cent).
  • Children from low income families are at highest risk, three times that of those from the highest.
  • Those with conduct disorder are twice as likely to leave school without any qualifications, three times more likely to become a teenage parent, four times more likely to become dependent on drugs and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
  • Yet most children and young people get no support. Even for those that do, the average wait for routine appointments for psychological therapy was 32 weeks, or nearly 8 months in 2015/16.
  • People with severe and prolonged mental illness are at risk of dying on average 15 to 20 years earlier than other people. Just think of the impact of mild mental health issues and its impact.
  • One in five older people living in the community and 40 per cent of older people living in care homes are affected by depression.

In the past few years, the picture has started to change. Public attitudes towards mental health are improving, and there is a growing commitment among communities, workplaces, schools and within government to change the way we think about it.

There have been big advances in understanding some of the core reasons that impact mental wellbeing. New treatments and approaches are being developed and a much more clinical and scientific approach is being taken. One of the most recent to be added to the NHS is Mindfulness, both Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and also Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. I really do believe that over the course of the next few years, the impact of really understanding how the mind works, and how you can influence it; through programs like Mindfulness; will drive the biggest improvement in mental health.

I leave you with the following quote.

“You’d be surprised how many people in the modern age no longer fear zombies as much as teletubies.” Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dream Warrior

One thought on “What age are we living in? The age of the mind

  1. I fear Martin that we need a seismic shock to our narcissistic selves if we’re going to see any real change. Our ego, or the ‘me’, is simply too powerful to be defeated by any amount of tips, tricks and therapies. Blessings Julian


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