Sunday, April 12, 2020

Johann Hari

Johann Hari is the author of Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions.

From his Q&A with Roge Karma for Vox:

Roge Karma: ...Almost overnight, huge swaths of the American workforce have been thrown into a precarious financial situation. Unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels. Local businesses are in dire straits. How should we be thinking about these changes from a mental health perspective?

Johann Hari: It massively depends on what political action happens. I’m very frustrated that whenever I turn on the news and they’re talking about what people should do about anxiety and depression, you have these mental health professionals who exclusively say things like “meditate” and “turn off the news.”

Now, that’s all fine — I’m doing that stuff. But the single biggest thing that will affect people’s anxiety is not knowing if you’re going to be thrown out of your home next month or how you’re going to feed your children. And I think there’s an element of cruel optimism in telling a country of people living paycheck to paycheck that they should be responding to the anxiety they’re experiencing this moment primarily by meditating and switching off the news. That’s not going to solve the problem. The single most important thing that has to be done to deal with people’s depression and anxiety is to deal with the financial insecurity they’re facing.

And this isn’t some pie in the sky thing. El Salvador, one of the poorest countries in the world, has canceled everyone’s utility bills and canceled their rent for the next three months. If El Salvador can do it, America can do it.

Roge Karma: What you’re saying is that these shouldn’t just be thought of as economic policies, but mental health policies as well?

Johann Hari: Yes. We need to radically expand our idea of what an antidepressant is. Anything that reduces depression and anxiety should be regarded as an antidepressant. For some people...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue