Going Mental

The Chairs’ retreat includes an obligatory session on “mental health.” Why not sexual health? Nutritional? Podiatric? Back pain issues, which are intensely relevant to most professors? Vocal cord health? Eye health?

Nobody ever talks about these health issues in the work environment, no matter how widespread and serious they might be. Yet it’s “mental health” that’s supposed to have some imaginary stigma attached to it even though people can’t stop discussing it.

7 thoughts on “Going Mental

  1. For Americans mental health is like sex – it’s such a taboo topic that no one can shut up about it or think about anything else.
    Physically remote ‘learning’ was hell on my butt and upper legs…. no chair is comfortable enough…
    In Poland people aren’t obsessed about mental health – it’s a real taboo so no one talks about it and no one jokes about it (which I’ve found out the hard way….) though my institution has sent links to various ‘workshops’ related to dealing with it and how to assess the results (mostly pretty crappy though again no one wants to say that).
    There were also a few emails about physical effects but mostly related to such earth shattering insights as ‘stand up and walk around every once in a while’….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the USSR it was prestigious among the elite to have mental diagnoses because it saved them from the draft. I’m still not sure why it’s so prestigious here in the US. People say “I’m mentally ill” with the pride usually reserved for a significant achievement.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the U.S., mental illness is a way to be one of the cool kids. If you weren’t born black or brown or poor or homeless, it’s hard to feel oppressed and victimized in this country. Thus the wild popularity of sexual nonconformity among young people these days. The sexually-nonconforming club is a club that anyone can join, even middle-class white kids from intact families who would otherwise risk being accused of “privilege.” Identifying as mentally ill is another way you can become one of the marginalized and dispossessed and downtrodden. And if you can be sexually nonconforming and mentally ill at the same time, you’ve got it made. No one can ever criticize you or your ideas or any of the stupid things you do or say, because it would be a hate crime to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve noticed lately that fat people are also fighting fiercely for the marginalized status. I guess that’s the easiest way to join the downtrodden. I’m dreading the days when it will become uncool to lose weight.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Wanted to share Scott’s review of a book re mental illnesses in case you’re interested. The worst thing I discovered was that public awareness campaigns may increase the rate of a particular disease so greatly that it may be called an epidemic like happened with anorexia.

    // Book Review: Crazy Like Us
    Summary and commentary on Ethan Watters’ “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization Of The American Psyche”

    We talk a lot about falling biodiversity. Sometimes we apply the same metaphor to the human world, eg “falling linguistic biodiversity” when minority languages get replaced by English or whatever. In Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters sounds the alarm about falling psychiatric biodiversity. Along with all the usual effects of globalization, everyone is starting to have the same mental illnesses, and to understand them in the same way. This is bad insofar as greater diversity of mental illness could teach us something about the process that generates them, and greater diversity of frameworks and responses could teach us something about how to treat them.



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