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Prince William: “The mental illness taboo must go”

 

By Eli Eli Pub 2Zaret, New Oakland Community Liaison

“It might seem as though modern man should have evolved to be happy and harmonious. But nature cares about genes, not joy.”  — David C. Geary, author of “The Origin of Mind”

Mental illnesses hinder one in every four adults in America every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And this doesn’t even count those of us with more moderate mood swings.

One in four is 25%, and that’s a big, awful number that should alarm all of us.

It’s all about Darwinian natural selection. Darwin realized that the organisms alive today exist because their ancestors had traits allowing them and their offspring to flourish, whereas less fit individuals perished with few or no offspring.

As the above quote by David C. Geary points out, our distant ancestors were desperate to survive. “Sex, and survival of one’s kids, is the whole point — as far as nature is concerned. Sometimes
unpleasant mental states lead to greater reproductive success,” notes Geary, “so these genes stay in the gene pool.”

Robin Nixon in Live Science, writes, “Natural selection wants us to be crazy — at least a little bit. While true debilitating insanity is not nature’s intention, many mental health issues may be byproducts of the over-functional human brain.”

One simple example of many is that people with aggressive and narcissistic personalities look out for number one. It may cost them some friendships in 2017, but may have kept them alive eons ago.

On the other hand, positive social skills like empathy, compassion and guilt help us blend into civilized society.

As far as we’re concerned, New Oakland isn’t just about helping people cope with mental illness. The equally important mission is to overcome the stigma that misidentifies the causes of mental download (1)illness. That’s the reason why a passionate speech Britain’s Prince William recently made at a Guild of Health Writers event in London was so refreshing and beneficial to the cause.

As MSN.com reports, William said, “We all face struggles with mental health. Mental health was the great taboo. If you were anxious, it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing. Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it.”

William and his wife, Kate, have been highlighting their “Heads Together” campaign, which unites several charities under one umbrella. William is a former air ambulance pilot and was appalled by how many deaths were caused by suicide.

“The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths — suicide. If one of these other issues took so many young lives, there would be a national outcry. This silence is killing good people.”

There were 42,773 deaths by suicide in the United States in 2014, more than twice as many homicides and more deaths than from auto fatalities.suici

What can be done? On that topic, William makes a very important point. “On average it takes a sufferer 10 years to admit to a problem,” William adds. “This means that what often starts as a fairly minor issue becomes something serious and medical after time. Silence can kill; but talking can lead to help and support.”

If you have been harboring thoughts of despair or know someone who is, you must act. Please call New Oakland. You’ll be put in touch one of our compassionate suicide prevention professionals. Help and guidance are available. All it takes is the courage to make the call and seek help. We must all work together to eliminate the stigma. Mental health issues are facts of life, not issues of personal failure.

 

Cubs win — and life’s great values are affirmed!

FCBK 1By Eli Zaret, New Oakland Community Liaison

“I want to thank anyone who’s ever put on a Cubs uniform and anyone who’s ever rooted for the Cubs. It’s been 108 years of love, support and patience waiting for a cubsteam like this to make it happen. You guys are all world champs tonight and I couldn’t be happier for you.”

Cub’s General Manager Theo Epstein to life-long Cubs fan Bill Murray after the Cubs won a thrilling game 7 over the Cleveland Indians

To understand the impact on Cubs fans of the winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years, you have to be in touch with many elements of human emotion and experience.

Life is a journey

The older we get the better we understand and hopefully appreciate how we went about getting to where we are. Life is a series of decisions, blunders, luck and preparation. We can all look back and kick ourselves for our mistakes, bad judgments and personal failings. But maturity is about forgiving oneself for those things and being proud of the lessons they taught us and the progress towards wisdom that they teach us. In the end, we hope to find a sense of satisfaction. As poet laureate Maya Angelou said, “You did what you knew how to do – and when you knew better, you did better. Always try to do better.”

The lesson: The Cubs century-plus record of futility is well-documented. But nobody was ever accused of not trying. The journey led to finding the right leadership in Epstein; the right manager in Joe Maddon and the right blend of players. In the end, every Cubs fan will say it was all worth it – every agonizing disappointment in all of the 108 seasons.

Loyalty is a key to a life well-lived

Life is about relationships. Family, friends, co-workers and the like keep us connected give us a sense of being needed. We share and receive love by proving our undying loyalty to those we care about, especially in hard times.

The lesson: Cub fans have always measured the depth of their devotion by remaining loyal to the cause. No amount of losing or frustration could break the bond they felt with their team and each other. They all silently or outwardly pledged their loyalty to their beloved, if indeed, hapless Cubs.

You’ve gotta believe

Every person is guided by a set of beliefs. We all have them, whether it’s belief in an afterlife, or a belief that if you work hard good things will happen. Our belief system serves to keep us grounded, focused on what’s right and wrong and helps sustain us when elements in our life seem stacked against us or even hopeless.

The lesson: Cub fans were always sustained by a belief that their devotion to the cause would be rewarded. No matter how much pain they endured, salvation would come. We can easily imagine the thousands of Cubs fans feeling that their loved ones are turning cartwheels in heaven as they celebrate with them.

A sense of community and patriotism

We stave off the loneliness at the core of human experience by becoming part of things bigger and greater than ourselves. Although the many millions of Cub fans never wore a uniform or could cubs-1hope to hit a major league fastball, they still feel like they’re a part of the team. This is the grand illusion of sports. Even though a Cubs player has no more of a chance of being from Chicago than anywhere else, the uniform binds them all. As Seinfeld said, “We root for laundry.”

The Lesson: Cubs players hail from Cuba to California with not a single player even from Illinois. No matter. They are “our team” and “our guys.” We share their successes and failures. Our brains put it all in a compartment and we don’t think about who they really are or how they got here.

Respect for hard work

It’s a deep American theme and we hear about “work ethic” a lot in sports. Nothing great happens without pain and “paying the price.” “Respect 90” is Maddon’s slogan that refers to players hustling at all times. The distance between bases is 90 feet and people are watching all the time and expect you to never stop hustling.

The lesson: As a kid I read a Joe DiMaggio quote. He was asked why he always plays so hard. He said, “Because every day somebody who never saw you play before is watching.”

Playing hard; rooting hard; being loyal to the cause; having unshakable beliefs; being loyal and seeing life as an ongoing journey that continually challenges and tests us are great qualities to have.

Hope always reigns supreme in sports. When I was a kid, the perennially losing Dodgers rallying cry always was, “Wait ‘til next year!” Their year eventually happened, as it just did for the Cubs.

And on that, we all cling.

Internal vs. external and the rapid rise of mental illness

FCBK 1

 

By Eli Zaret, New Oakland Community Liaison

If you are always rewarding your child with material things, he/she will never learn how to motivate themselves with internal rewards like pride. They also will never learn to value things because there are so many things and nothing is special.”  – Dr. Phil

As the mental health professionals at New Oakland Family Centers know all too well, mental illness has been on a steady, upward climb for no less than the last 50 years.

Today, by some estimates, a shocking five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago!

Dr. Jean Twenge is the author of “Generation Me,” in which she also refers to Millennials as the “Entitlement Generation.” She says they are tolerant, confident, open-minded, and ambitious but are also disengaged, narcissistic, distrustful, and anxious. Based on questionnaires given students for the last 70 years, she writes, “Rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents were far lower during the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the turbulent 1960s and the early ‘70s than they are today.”

She concludes that this troubling trend has much more to do with the way young people view the world than because of the way the world actually is.
Young people today have been inundated by advertisements and other messages implying that happiness depends on good looks, popularity, and material goods. It’s put their focus on “extrinsic” millenial confusionvalues rather than “intrinsic.”

Intrinsic goals have to do with one’s own development as a person—like gaining competency in a chosen endeavor and developing a meaningful philosophy of life. Extrinsic goals have to do with material rewards like status and income, and other people’s judgments. An annual poll of college freshmen shows that most students today list “being well off financially” as more important to them than “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.” The reverse was true in the 1960s and 1970s.

The resulting anxiety comes down to control: do I control my world (intrinsic) or am I controlled by circumstances outside of me (extrinsic)? The data indicates that young people’s belief that they have control over their own destinies has declined sharply over the decades.

Shouldn’t we be doing something because it brings joy and accomplishment, or do we do it for the crowd’s applause, a parent’s approval, or society’s trophies?

Young people have 3 intrinsic needs:

  1. The need to feel competent.
  2. The need to feel related (connected with others).
  3. The need to feel autonomous.

From the “Self-Determination Theory” by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan

As a kid, I had a balance of freedom and discipline. I had school, homework and chores, but after school I was free to play with my friends without adult supervision and sometimes for the entire day on weekends – as long as I made it home for dinner.

When I was alone, there was nobody pestering me on social media. I read, studied, had hobbies and built my own world based on values that weren’t materially based. I wasn’t obsessed with gathering “likes” or showing off where I’d been or what I’d done and didn’t have facebook friends or mass media throwing images at me of happy, beautiful people telling me what material goods I needed or how I had to look or risk being un-cool.

I sensed that I was in charge of my fate and was less likely to become anxious or depressed than kids today who believe that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Here’s the example that pushed me to write about this topic: I’m at a golf outing last week with a number of Detroit media people. Afterwards, Jeff, a guy in my foursome, took a picture of me, former radio star Tom Ryan and sportscaster Ray Lane. He proudly posted it on facebook, writing, “Hey look at who I was with today!” Then one of his “friends” added this to a string of comments: “Years ago as a kid, my mother took me to a Channel 4 Christmas party and I saw Eli bawl out his kids in front of everybody. I haven’t liked him since.”

I stared at it as my anger began to boil.

Fact is, when I worked at Channel 4 from 1980 -’86, I didn’t have 2 kids. He was confusing me with someone who replaced me. But there it was on social media inciting a debate as to whether I was a good guy or a jerk. If I was 15 I would have been devastated. Now, I’m just reminded of how the world has changed – for the worse.

As parents, we must strive to instill in our children intrinsic values over the fleeting external illusions that have poisoned “Generation Me.”Feel free to call New Oakland. We have many therapists to help children understand this critical difference and to work with parents to steer their kids towards the intrinsic goals and rewards of personal growth.

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