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How the Decline Of America Is Ruining Our Mental Health

by Jason Provencio about a month ago in supreme court / politicians / legislation / humanity / controversies / activism / stigma / trauma / therapy / support / social media / selfcare / ptsd / panic attacks / humanity / how to / family / depression / coping / anxiety / advice
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8 Ways We’re Struggling With Anxiety and Depression, and What We Can Do To Fix This

It’s getting more difficult to get out of bed each day. We’re struggling. Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

It’s not easy being an American for many of us in 2022. There has been a trend toward our country reverting backward in time, in so many negative ways. As we become more divided, angry, and confrontational, it takes its toll on our mental health.

We are struggling with so much these days. It feels like the issues that are at the forefront of the news, online articles, and social media have escalated as things seem to get worse for us in the United States. This is difficult for adults, teenagers, children, members of marginalized groups, and people who are empathetic to the struggles of others.

I’m going to discuss eight issues we face in our country that has gotten exponentially worse in the past decade or so, and the ways they are negatively affecting our mental health. Then I’ll discuss a few ways we can improve upon not allowing these issues to affect us as negatively as they do.

1. The Attack on Women’s Rights

Let’s start with the big one that has so many people scared, anxious, and furious right now. The removal of Roe V. Wade, 50 years after the fact. Men rule about what a woman has a right to do with her own body. Smug, cocky men think that they know what is best for a woman.

This should be a personal choice, by a woman, for a woman. If you don’t have a uterus, you should have no opinion on the matter. A woman’s reproductive rights are HER business. If men care so much about unwanted pregnancies, perhaps they should all regulate their dicks and all have vasectomies. Since they care so much about unborn children.

Seeing women being treated as second-class citizens and dictated to about what they can and can’t do regarding pregnancy is the worst thing I’ve seen in our country in a long time. The poor will have an especially horrible time with this, as they may not have the money, support, or resources to travel to a blue state in order to receive reproductive health care.

The fact that we are allowing the conservative religious right to decide what is right for a woman in terms of reproductive rights is insane. I have felt nothing but sadness and anger since Friday, and from all the negative, angry, devastated posts I’m reading online, I’m far from alone on this. I stand with the women, not the Christians, on this topic.

2. Mass Shootings Increasing Exponentially in the U.S.

Mass shootings are far more common now than years ago. Photo by What Is Picture Perfect on Unsplash

This has been particularly unnerving over the past ten to fifteen years in the United States. It feels like we go through periods of time when we have mass shootings weekly, or even daily at times.

The Uvalde, Texas grade-school shooting was particularly heinous in nature, with 19 grade-school children slaughtered by an assault rifle in the hands of a newly-turned 18-year-old psychopath. Then the police force fails abysmally to attempt to stop it in a timely fashion. The graphic nature of the crime and descriptions of what happened to these poor little children just makes me die inside.

As a country, many citizens can’t stop worshipping their guns long enough to agree to sensible gun control measures. The gun lobbyists buy so many of our corrupt politicians and very rarely do anything useful and helpful pass to help our children. A gun has more rights in this country than a woman does. It’s sickening and wrong.

I see posts from parents with grade-school, junior-high, and high-school-aged kids posting very sad social media posts about not wanting to leave their children at school. It is one of the biggest worries for so many parents, nationwide. And just think how the poor children’s mental health is holding up during the school year. They’re not doing well.

3. The Religious Right Trying To Control Our Country

With the sharp decline in church attendance nationwide, I’d hoped that this Moral Majority nonsense would have died off by now. Sadly, these people are helping to divide and take rights away from citizens who are not religious and not living in fear of burning in Hell.

What are the conservative Christians doing to wreck our country and damage our mental health? Plenty: Anti-LGBTQ legislation and discrimination. They’d love to see gay marriage disappear, as well as adoptions rights for gay couples.

How about the reproductive rights being taken away from women? They’re cheering for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They’d love for women to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, even though that can cause severe mental health issues for the mother who then has to decide whether to keep her unwanted child or put it up for adoption.

These people ought to mind their own business. They interfere with the rights of so many people they will never know and vote for leaders based on their twisted biblical beliefs. The ones that pick and choose the parts of the bible to fit their discriminatory, dangerous agendas. I’ve heard of pastors of churches calling for the killing of LGBTQ people. These threats should be considered assault and illegal.

Conservative Christians are damaging the fight for true equality in this country with their racist, bigoted, homophobic beliefs, ignorance, and discriminatory ways against women, minorities, LGBTQ people, and countless others. If they’d keep their personal beliefs to themselves and stop trying to force-feed everyone their biased views, the mental health of so many of their targets would definitely improve.

4. Horrible Politicians Who Are Being Elected and Appointed

The worst examples of these people are doing huge damage to democracy and freedom in America. And we’re the ones electing them, through our apathy and lack of a sense of urgency in defeating evil, racist, and bigoted garbage humans.

I would never vote for people who are horrible human beings. Racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia are dealbreakers for me, in terms of who I will allow into my life. In real-life or on social media, If I see that bullshit, you’re eliminated. It’s as simple as a push of the button. My blocking finger has done too many reps since the rise of Donald Trump about 7 or 8 years ago.

Donald Trump has done more to divide this country and inflame racism, hatred, intolerance, bigotry, and homophobia than any U.S. leader I’ve ever been able to recall. It’s not even close to who’s in second place behind that human piece of filth. I am praying for the day he’s brought to justice, tried, convicted, and locked up.

Then you have horrible people such as Rudy Giuliani, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz, Matt Goetz, Lauren Boebert, Ron DeSantis, and a number of others who are openly vocal about their disdain for anything pro-equality. The toll that’s been taken on our marginalized citizens' mental health by these people, Trump, and the hateful MAGA crowds is unforgivable.

5. The Extreme Rise of the Cost of Living, Housing, and Inflation

The rising cost of homes for sale as well as rental properties is astonishing. Inflation in general in the United States is unbelievable. The gas prices worldwide and here in the States have so many people’s mental health suffering greatly.

Ask any average citizen what their biggest source of stress is, and the answer is likely “money”. Finances and income not going nearly as far as they used to is a major problem in our nation.

So many people are working two, three, or more jobs/side hustles to make ends meet. More families are living in multi-general situations due to the sharply rising costs of home prices and rental properties. Long gone are the days were a young couple can easily purchase their first starter home.

Wages have not increased enough in most fields for people to be able to better afford things like housing, cars, gasoline, fuel, health care, vacations, or consumer products. In many cases, the CEOs are making huge profits while the workforce is not being paid enough to get by.

Stressing out about your income can cause so much anxiety and often, depression. For our citizens to have better lives and better mental health, they need to earn more and not be worried about becoming homeless or going hungry.

6. Covid-19 and the Anti-Vaxxer Ignorance

Ignorance and science-denying caused over one million Covid deaths. Photo by DJ Paine on Unsplash

Covid-19 and the ignorant, selfish response to it during the initial months of 2020 and continuing into 2021 killed over one million Americans. But don’t tell that to most conservative Republicans. They don’t believe that.

Even though we lost over one million total Americans to the pandemic, there are still so many who don’t believe it was any more dangerous than the flu. That it killed less than 1% of people who contracted it. That the media hyped it up to scare us and make us submissive to their requests for citizens to wear a mask in public.

Instead of trying to help our fellow Americans during those dangerous, dark times, and simply slipping on a mask in public, selfish, ignorant people threw a fit. They screamed about their freedoms being violated. They tried to dismiss masks as being ineffective. Suddenly, every ‘Murican became an expert and claimed to know more than actual scientists.

They also refused to get vaccinated. They laughed at those of us who got the first shot, then the second, a third one, and sometimes a fourth. They predicted we’d die from them quickly, or within six months to a year.

I got vaccinated. My Bride and children all did, too. And guess what? We’re doing just fine. On the other side, not so much. But then again, many of them took Ivermectin, a horse medication, because Joe Rogan told them to on his podcast. Well, at least they were dewormed before they died.

Many people died. Oh, so many died. I knew at least eight to ten people from my social media who passed away from Covid-19. And guess which political party they belonged to, almost exclusively? Yep, the GOP.

These fathers, mothers, children, parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins didn’t have to die. Their stubbornness and ignorance killed them. Many said they’d rather die than give up their freedom to not have to wear a mask in public. And they got their wish.

The early months of Covid-19 were completely mishandled by the Trump administration. With the continual refusal by many Republicans to do their part and comply with masking up and getting vaccinated, they’ve wreaked havoc on the mental health of so many people who lost family and friends to this avoidable pandemic.

7. The Aggression and Lack of Manners on Social Media

When social media first was getting popular around 15 or so years ago, I didn’t notice very many rude or angry people constantly. Sure, there was the occasional douchebag who would say something rude or make fun of someone’s post. But that seemed to be the exception rather than the norm.

Fast forward to 2022. I’m not sure if it’s due to the increased number of users between the main platforms, or if it’s how divided our country now seems to be with the rise of Trump and his encouragement of rudeness, racism, and bigotry, but it’s completely out of control.

I feel as though I see angry, rude comments numerous times daily. I’ve seen people tell others to kill themselves. I’ve also read too many posts where someone is using racist, bigoted, or homophobic slurs. Or telling someone how stupid they are for their religious or political beliefs.

It makes me sad to the point where I know it’s better to take a break from social media, for my own mental health. About the time Donald Trump was campaigning and using racist and bigoted rhetoric non-stop, I decided to eliminate any social media contact who echoed that racist, bigoted, or homophobic crap.

It took time. It did help to not see such ignorance constantly in my feed. Eventually, I took out the worst offenders and didn’t feel the least bit bad about it. I have a mixed-race Bride and children and a gay daughter. This was non-negotiable for me.

I’d usually give a warning and if it persisted, then they’d disappear. When you’re able to block someone with a push of the button, it’s a lot better for your mental health to just do so. I learned that it was a better use of my limited time to just block someone rather than argue about why their racist or bigoted comments were wrong.

The fact that so many people spend so much time every day on social media is a bit disturbing to start with. Add to that the amount of time that many still spend debating and arguing with others about politics, religion, and a multitude of other things, and it’s a recipe for a decline in one’s mental health.

8. Increasing Racism and Bigotry Within the United States

Indeed it is. I’m so tired of racist, bigots who treat people horribly. Photo by Ying Ge on Unsplash

I’ve had discussions with people about this topic at length. I’ve often wondered if Americans are genuinely becoming more racist than ever before. Chances are, it’s more likely that so many have been emboldened to be more open about their racism and bigotry that has never left them.

With the horrible example that Donald Trump set during his term as president, and Fox News enflaming the fire of racism and bigotry, I tend to think it’s more of the latter. When you hear the leader you align with mirroring your racist and bigoted values, you may start to be more open with them. Especially online, behind the safety of your computer or phone.

I can’t imagine that people who were once NOT racist would suddenly become racist. Even with an ignorant president who talked constantly without thinking and seemed to have no filter, I don’t feel that turns a non-racist person into a racist.

The conservative Christians and Moral Majority have been attacking the LGBTQ community for no legitimate reason. Other than their bible justifying their hatred and ignorance toward marginalized groups. So it’s not just racism we’re trying to battle. The worst examples of human beings I encounter during my daily time spent online are usually the ones who are taught to “Love Thy Neighbor, As Thyself.”

I’ve always wondered why so many Christians really seem to hate or belittle gay and trans people. Like, why is it any of your business who someone else decides to love? Isn’t Jesus all about love and acceptance? Do you truly not have anything better to do than to judge someone else? Christ also commanded that you leave the judging to him.

Again, people pick and choose the parts of the bible that justify their own terrible beliefs. It’s no wonder that mental health rates for marginalized groups have declined to the point they have.

The suicide rate within the LGBTQ community is astonishingly high. This is due in large part to overly-religious parents who reject and kick out their gay or trans children when their child comes out to them. I cannot fathom such an idea.

Imagine not supporting your own flesh and blood, simply because they love someone of the same sex? It sickens me to hear these stories of rejection and humiliation from family members and friends. This topic especially makes my own mental health suffer, having a beautiful, proud, gay daughter myself. Thankfully, she has nothing but support from all four of her loving, caring parents.

So what Can We Do To Improve Our Mental Health in America?

We can achieve inner peace and improve our mental health if we try. Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

I have to say, after writing eight reasons why our mental health is declining more than ever as our country becomes worse and worse, I’m feeling pretty awful. It’s important to take steps and measures to ensure your mental health is taken care of. There are a number of things that you can do to make this happen.

One of the biggest ones that will help your mental health is to talk to a therapist. My Bride is a wonderful, caring, empathetic counselor. She owns her own practice and let me just say, business is good. She’s so busy because so many clients are stressed out about the state of our nation.

Depression, anxiety, familial relationships, and LGBTQ struggles abound these days. It’s important to talk about the feelings you have with someone who actually LISTENS. Someone who validates where you are coming from, but also challenges you to do better for yourself. It’s worth working on yourself, to be happier and more fulfilled. Especially in a society on the decline, as we seem to be here in America,

Turning out to vote is another thing we can do to improve our mental health here in the United States. By refusing to settle for openly hostile, ignorant, racist, and bigoted leaders, we can better fight the system that oppresses so many people and make an actual difference in the world.

Knowing that you are on the right side of history will give you better self-esteem. Standing up for women’s rights, and equality for minorities and LGBTQ citizens will make you feel happier and give you a sense of pride. I know that doing the right things and surrounding myself with people who love others rather than hate them always makes my mental health so much more improved.

Finally, we can take time for ourselves. Self-care is such an important aspect of a daily routine. I often feel completely overwhelmed on days when I’m writing about politics, religion, and mental health struggles.

I also feel that my own mental health suffers when I’m commenting on and reading blogs, articles, and social media posts about those topics. It can really put me in a down mood, seeing such ignorance from people online.

Taking a break from it all is SO helpful. An hour at the gym revives my body and gives my mind a much-needed break. I truly worry about the struggles we all face in our country, so taking a timeout from worrying truly helps my mental health.

It’s also the same for cooking, for me. The kitchen is my zen place. I don’t allow myself to be on social media when I’m cooking. I play my music, sing along, drink a little wine, and make delicious food for my family. That 90 minutes to two hours of cooking and then having dinner with my family gives me a mood boost like none other.

Find things that bring you peace. Physical activities, hobbies, meditation, a hot bubble bath, or even taking a break from social media and news sources can help you balance your anxiety and depression. It’s amazing how we can be so negatively affected by a worsening society within our country, if we allow it to happen, unchecked.

Be aware of what triggers mental health episodes and issues. Avoid those and think of ways to focus on the things you ARE able to control, versus the ones you cannot. Knowing what you’re facing and strategizing to prioritize better things to invest time in can make all the difference in the world. And I’m here for you if you ever need to talk.

supreme courtpoliticianslegislationhumanitycontroversiesactivismstigmatraumatherapysupportsocial mediaselfcareptsdpanic attackshumanityhow tofamilydepressioncopinganxietyadvice

About the author

Jason Provencio

Husband, father, writer, and poet. I love blogging about family, politics, relationships, humor, and writing. Buy me a coffee? https://ko-fi.com/jasonpro9

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