WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR DEPRESSED KIDS?
Author of Germaine Requiem of a Soul/The True Story of Cinderella
According to a report published in 2012 by World Health Organization "the prevalence of mental disorders in a year is between 4.3% in China and 26.4% in the United States." In addition, the report recognizes that, of those diagnosed with mental disorders, a large number is depressed, and over 50% suffer from abuse or dependence on alcohol or drugs. The WHO projects that by 2030 depression will be the most significant cause of morbidity. It would seem that we have a tendency to flee reality, at least, for those entangled by substance abuse. However, we must recognize that in our culture, those without mental disorders-a majority we hope-find many opportunities to escape or soften the troubles of their daily lives. They rely more and more on the intemperance of food, entertainment and work to mitigate on the one hand their deep hunger for meaning and a definition of their mission, and, on the other hand, to alleviate their remorse of conscience emanating from the haunting echoes of their past. We seek to confirm that life is not an existentialist journey that puts us in the face of its pure absurdity. Among our sources of entertainment, we increasingly rely on fables and adventurous and enchanting stories to distract us, albeit temporarily, from our concerns and sadness—see the abundance of fantastic movies featured in our cinemas. This is where we find a moment of respite, an oasis of calm in a frantic sea, where we appease, as best we can, our anxieties and sorrows. Few would admit it, but by reading our wonderful fantasy books, our fables such as Cinderella, we sometimes pause and secretly wish that fairy godmothers really exist. With time, however, one comes to understand that fairy tales no longer excite our intellect and imagination or satisfy the soul’s hunger. So what? Over time, we perceive life more realistically and we soon give up dreams of fairy tales. We end up attaching ourselves to a more pragmatic notion of life so that we may finally abandon the false hopes conveyed by these seductive fables. How did it happen that for a time these tales so delighted us? We love what is easy and what is enchanting, but we all must grow up one day and face the tragedies of life one by one when they are thrown at us. It is not surprising that we never really fall back on Cinderella's fable to provide us with the real comfort the soul needs when the times turns gray and cold.
What went wrong? Currently, the rise of immorality and a strong sense of hopelessness define North American culture - times are indeed gray. A front-page article, in the UK's Daily Mirror, dated February 10, 2014, reads: "The Generation Stress: The Scandal of Our Depressed Children". Andrew Gregory investigated the crisis. He described children under 10, tormented, anxious and worried about everything: homework, bullies, friends, appearances, sexualization and consumerism. Lucie Russell, head of "Young Minds," a mental health charity, expressed her concern about these statistics. She admits: "An increase in the number of young people under 11 in need of mental health services is a sad and very worrying accusation of the society we live in and the pressures that children face."
Children face pressures, but who protects them from the onslaught of demands that saturate their schedules and from the worries and fears that consume them? Arguably, a social malady is at the root of the breakdown of our national culture and spirit; it is symptomatically revealed in our broken families, relationships, and darkened countenances.
Psychologists, Twenge and Campbell - authors of The Narcissistic Epidemic - have argued that narcissism has also crept into our culture since the 1970s. Therefore, we strut about proudly, reinforced by our own self-confidence, sure of our gifts, boastful and wicked, incapable of sacrificing ourselves for others, unable to love. We live in a time when hope is a rare commodity; depression, anxiety and mood disorders prevail and afflict a large number of people who are eager to understand what is happening to them, and who are hungry for inner peace.
Indeed, in the inner depth of our soul, we all have a hunger for the reason of things, the truth and natural order that invites the soul to a mystical ascent that brings him closer to God; it is in our nature. It is sad that our culture does not aspire to tell stories rooted in the truth, and that really comfort the suffering. The tragedy is that parents and educators, long ago, stopped murmuring the sweet stories of angels and refused to nurture, in children, any form of mystical life. Thus, this generation deprives its children, like the two previous generations, of a deep and rich interior life; suffering cannot vanish by magic, never could, and never will. Suffering is part of our lives from the beginning. It is time for us to teach our youth that the supernatural exists and that in our lives filled with the paradoxes of suffering, we have a mission. In the end, there is hope; it is up to us to seize it.