Intrinsically, we want more of almost everything. It's actually in our DNA! What started as an evolutionary need has monstrously evolved to a constant and sisyphic chase after what we would so eloquently define as “stuff”.
Bigger house, faster car, shinier jewelry. Higher score, faster exit, bigger (or smaller) screens- all in the name of success and achievement. It's an interesting, fast moving and often painfully hollow existence to live in. One where the peaks of achievement are high but the valleys of pursuit are often dark, cold and damp.
Worse still, we oftentimes find that reaching the summit is anti-climactic, and upon arrival, we immediately set sights on the next, higher peak, without ever taking a moment to take in the view.
There is no denying- this is the basis of advancement. Discovery and ingenuity drive progress and improvement. But we also recognize the dangerous curves of this yellow brick road. Most of us know why the “pursuit of happiness” is a constitutional anchor while the pursuit of a Porsche is just Seinfeld's favorite hobby. We can feel something is missing, and we sit in our piles of “stuff”, as depressed as ever.
The average American adult has a 20% chance of being identified with a need for some level of therapy. That's around 50 million Americans. The number of people who actually receive treatment? It's around 16.5 million. That is 33%, which is obscenely low, since it means that around 67% of all people in need are receiving no help. If I told you that 67% of cancer patients will not be receiving treatment this year, or that only 33% of all people with cavities will get to see a dentist- would that make sense? Surely not.
Why is it so low? Because mental health is far less visible than the effects of chemotherapy, and less viable than a 3am toothache. Because the barriers to help are significant, and include technical, social and monetary considerations. And while we wait, the need for help often weighs on us from within and collapses one's emotional center of gravity, effecting every aspect of everyday life.
And what do we do about it? Mostly, we find ways to sweep things under the carpet, usually with the courty of mindless prescriptions of anti-depressants, with or without proper therapeutic process, oftentimes with good old suppression. Other times we simply neglect and hope things go away. Or catch a quick self help / motivational talk at 3am. A classic lather- rise- repeat for the soul.
Either way, we seem to have developed an evolutionary tendency to collectively treat symptoms rather than issues, and with mental health, it is so easy to make things all pretty on the outside while the inner substance rots away.