“Eating your feelings”

Your brain is a nonstop, high powered, supercomputer that your body allocates over 20% of energy output into. Needless to say, our brains require an absurd amount of nutrients to operate at an efficient level. So, what are you feeding it? We all have a clear understanding of the correlation between your physical health and your diet, however, we often negligent the effects of our everyday food consumption to our mood and mental health.

Though there are numerous factors linked to depression and mood irregularities, the rise of nutritional psychiatry has found strong links between the intake of unprocessed whole grains, fruits, and lean proteins with the decreased likelihood of depressive symptoms. “Traditional Diets”, Like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, compared to the Western diet, have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, seafood, and a modest amount of lean meats. Whereas, traditional western diets consist of unprocessed foods, probiotics, and high sugar content. According to an analysis posted by Harvard Health Publishing stated, “A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. A dietary pattern characterized by high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.”

Though appropriate medication and therapy are avenues of treatment that have helped those who suffer from depression, we aren’t helping ourselves by continuing the consumption of unnatural foods and unprocessed sugars. We need to reassess what we’re feeding ourselves, and with the increase of depression amongst this upcoming generation, it has become imperative that we take a closer look at what we’re feeding ourselves. It could be killing us.

“To be, or not to be, a Stoic”

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage” – Seneca

                The Roman stoic Seneca, like many before him that practiced stoicism, believed in the philosophy of rational objectivity and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and circumstance. Many have interpreted this mentality as being cold to emotions, and insensitive to others feelings they deem as weak and unnecessary. This has created a societal mentality of a lack of sympathy and mental health awareness. The stoic would disagree with this paradigm.

Stoicism has a commonality with a type of therapy that many mental health clinics utilize today. This therapy is referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Stoics define life as being indifferent to the life of the individual, but how you react to life’s moments is what defines you as a person. In CBT, therapists focus on changing or mitigating cognitive distortion and behaviors, and work on implementing a more positive life perspective. This is the root of stoicism. Understanding that human emotions are not detrimental but essential to overcoming your life’s adversity. Acknowledging your emotions and using them to better create a more positive outlook on life. Using logic and rationality, coupled with emotional understanding, has helped patients target their negative thoughts and allowed them to begin the healing process.

CBT teaches mental health patients to hone in on those mental distractions and organize their emotional well-being in a positive and healthy manner. Stoicism is a practice that is embraced by the mental health community, however, it has been misinterpreted by those who think mental health is simply a bad attitude. Understand that your life can change through emotional control and an acute understanding of oneself. Therapy allows patients to hone in that understanding, ad allow them to be courageous with the perceived demons they face.

“The Therapy Generation”

The age of treating the average worker as a simple disposable cog in an ever-churning system, it seems, is slowly coming to an end with the rise of Millennials and Gen Z’ers. More so than ever before, the stigmatization of mental health treatment is on a steady decline with “…62 percent of Millennials say they’re comfortable discussing their mental health issues, almost twice as many as the 32 percent of Baby Boomers who expressed such ease, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).” As more young adults acknowledge the importance of their mental health, what does that mean, in regards, to companies having to accommodate to this new workforce?

            According to a study conducted by Mind Share Partners, SAP, and Qualtrics, “About half of Millennials and 75% of Gen Z’ers have left a job because of mental health reasons. Unlike their parents before them, young adults are far more cognizant of their mental stability and are less likely to stay with a company that doesn’t take into consideration the well-being of its employees. In fact, according to a study conducted by Aetna Behavioral Health, mental health expenses jumped by more than 10 percent annually over five years, compared with the annual increase of just 5 percent for all other medical costs. With a new understanding of mental health, companies are seeing the effects on productivity when mental health is ignored. Forbes states, “Mental health and substance abuse cost US businesses between $80 and $100 billion annually. Another study showed that serious mental illness costs America up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Depression is thought to count for up to 400 million lost work days annually. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S – that’s 18.5% of the population – experience mental illness each year.”

            “The Therapy Generation” is what they’re being called. A deeper analysis explains why young adults today are more demanding of their employers. With increased international competition, looming student loan debt, stagnant wages, and uncertain future, this generation is suffering the worst mental health crisis of any other generation to date. We’ve been conditioned to believe that the common worker in this country owes everything to their employer. Even sacrificing their convictions and mental health. This is a sacrifice, it seems, Millennials and Gen Z’ers are not willing to make.

  • Brian Hesson (Media Coordinator)

Who Defines Masculinity?

Who defines masculinity? How does one quantify manliness? Societal expectations have placed men in a misguided status quo that has disallowed their ability to confront their mental health. We’ve paralleled weakness with self-care. Men are now stranded on an island of emotional turmoil with their only comfort coming from their attempt to man up. “Manning up” has done nothing to prevent 47,173 deaths by suicide and 1,400,000 suicide attempts per year. (2017, afsp.org) Men are 4x more likely to commit suicide than women are.

            The social stigma of mental health amongst men has created a dangerously volatile environment that has led to many other negative societal implications that plagues many communities to this day. Alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, and infidelity all can be linked to the depressive state of men. Yet we continue to vilify the notion that men don’t need mental healthcare just as much as women. Nothing could be further from the truth. I say to my fellow men who’ve entered that dark mentality, you’re not alone. You are not weak. You are still a man. We were told that men are those who are strong and honest. Nothing shows more strength than being honest with yourself.

-Brian Hesson (Media Coordinator)