Depression has been a growing problem throughout the industrialized world for several decades, but it has skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic. Death rates from substance abuse, suicide, and gun violence have skyrocketed, anxiety has become a major problem, and professional help is either too expensive or unavailable for lack of professional staff nearby, or both. In such a state, a systemic, concerted effort is required. By using mass media to broadcast both calming messages and advice to people in need, we can save many lives and improve the lives of countless others.
All over the world, people are asking critical questions about the purpose of their lives. Their inability to answer these questions leaves them with a sense of purposelessness, and one who has no purpose in life feels that life itself is purposeless. This is the cause behind the growing escapism expressed in myriad ways, from extreme sports through religious fundamentalism to drug abuse and suicide.
For humans, eating, drinking, sleeping and mating do not count as living. Living means living out the reason we are put here on this planet. If we do not know why we were put here, we do not feel that we are alive or that our lives have value, and this can lead to horrendous consequences.
If only a few people feel this way, you can refer them to professionals who can help ease their pain until they find their purpose in life. But when so many people suffer from these distresses, it overwhelms the system and you need a new approach. Instead of stuffing our brains with messages that send us shopping and emptying our pockets and, more importantly, our hearts, the media, in all its forms, must spread messages that help resolve our situation.
It is not impossible; it is a question of the government’s resolve, and the media’s understanding that the situation will soon get out of hand. In a state of emergency, we must act accordingly, and we are certainly approaching one.
There are many ways the media can alleviate the growing misery of people, but the most effective one among them is to reverse its tendency to pitch people against each other and encourage them to reach out to each other. Countless studies have shown that solidarity and cohesion in society help mitigate or even solve most social, economic, and medical problems. Therefore, if the media offers a “collective treatment” for everyone by broadcasting content that encourages people to come closer, they will resolve most existing problems.
It is said, “A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.” This is very true. Sharing and connecting with others is a sure way to unite our hearts and heal our ills. This is why the more we work on our solidarity, the sooner we will resolve our social and emotional challenges.
Tablets of the opioid-based Hydrocodone at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston