Can Violence Impact Mental Health?
My mom told me an interesting fact she had heard on NPR this summer. However, it wasn’t until one morning at 5am I felt a sudden inspiration to discuss it publicly. NPR did a segment involving the mental health of my generation. During the segment, they discussed the high numbers of those in their 20’s whom identify as living with depression and/or anxiety. They were quick to attribute this evidence to the environment and events we have grown up with. We tend to struggle with our mental health specifically because we have experienced events of violence and terror in our society that display a lack stability. The NPR host specifically mentions 9/11, wars in the middle east, and social media; these three examples regardless of their similarities and differences have all effected my generation.
When I sat down to write this I thought I was going to discuss whether or not there was validity to this statement… but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Growing up in the US, I have experienced living with fear and uncertainty as violence, bullying, and harsh criticism towards one another has risen. Particularly, events that effect the country as a whole continue to drown us with such overwhelming emotions and new anxieties. I was only five years old on September 11, 2001, yet at this young age I was challenged with facing such fear that life could end at any moment. It suddenly became very clear that violence can take place anywhere at any time. We were instructed in school about how to react if there was an attack and where to proceed to the safest part of the school during an incident. These drills were practiced so regularly it was as if it were the Cha Cha Slide. I remember my parents giving me a post-it note in kindergarten with their cell phone numbers to keep on my desk in case of emergencies.
Essentially, during some of the most formative years of my life even the adults around me were scared and anxious. So, of course I developed these feelings as well! All of these things began preconditioning my generation that we need to be prepared for anything since an attack could happen at any moment. This way of thinking and preparing for the worst is a huge part of what creates my anxiety. My entire life I have been trained on how to handle dangerous situations. Though I can’t really say that’s a bad thing, I can say that the training has caused me to always look for the danger in the world. My question then is why does society find it wrong that I tend to worry and plan for the worst?
I cannot say that my generation experiences depression and anxiety solely because these events took place, or because we trained in school to be prepared for the worst. Depression and anxiety are both incredibly complicated mental health issues that impact individuals in different ways and from different factors. However, I personally believe that events such as 9/11 effected my generation and could be one of the many reasons that there has been a spike in mental health issues as of late. Now, I think it is important to take a look at how we are impacted by past events in our life. I had personally never considered that traumatic events happening hundreds of miles away from me could affect me almost two decades later. Now that my generation is coming of age and beginning their careers I think it is important for them to realize that as we change this world OUR changes are going to affect the next generation the same way our parents and grandparents changes effected us.