Are we facing an imminent global mental health crisis?
In recent years, I thought my poor opinion of the mental health system is due to personal bias since my own experiences with it were overwhelmingly negative.
And I have another reason to be biased: years ago, something horrible happened to my best friend who tried to find professional help and (just as I did) gave up after repeatedly dealing with people who either didn't help or even made her problems worse (the condescending attitude towards intelligent adults in such situations can be mindblowing). A lot of regular people were just as unhelpful, basically thinking that enough time passed for her "to get over it" and it was her fault she couldn't. After more than a decade of this, she killed herself, something I don't think I'll ever be able to get over myself.
So I admit I'm angry and frustrated because of this, but given that I understand these are personal anecdotes (in the big picture of things), that it's been a long time since I had anything to do with the system and I also heard from people who had significantly more success, I thought it's reasonable to assume things are getting better.
This year, I've been trying to help another friend in a very critical situation navigate the system and find help. More than half a year later, the only significant help he's getting still comes from his partner and friends, including books and online resources we all put together for him and our personal efforts to assist and support him with processing the information and making some changes. This was supposed to be a temporary solution to tide him over until he gets access to someone who can help him with more than getting through the day. He can afford to pay privately, and yet the search is still ongoing because all he could find were "counsellors" who give generic, mostly shallow and fairly condescending advice as efficient as putting a bandaid on gangrene, then bill you 100 euros per session. My friend told me he got better-suited suggestions from his partner, myself and my wife than from any of them.
That's not even mentioning incredibly stupid and dangerous advice like "he needs to be put on medication immediately to spare him the pain of therapy" - yes, a mental health professional said this to me, without even seeing or talking to him. As if this kind of medication is a precise science and most people don't have to go through a process of trial and error with it too, sometimes with drastic and dangerous side-effects.
Paradoxically, someone who's so depressed they can barely function in everyday life needs to engage in a long term uphill battle to find help, while they can barely get out of bed in the morning. I wonder what happens to those who have no resources or friends and family to advocate for them and help with the legwork (rhetorical question, I already know exactly what happens).
I look around me and in the news and see how "normal" and trivial severe untreated mental health issues became, from mass murderers going on a spree every other week or so, various forms of terrorism, parents severely abusing or trying to kill their children, people who resort to violence against others for the most trivial reasons (Soho Karen), the woman on the plane who had to be duct-taped to her chair after biting a crew member and trying to open the emergency door mid-flight, the daycare owner who hung a toddler in the basement and ran over two people with her car in the same day and the list is literally endless.
Modern life, the unexpected effects of very fast technological development, the rampant decline of the education system and several other political and social factors seem to have led to a huge surge of severe untreated mental conditions in our population. It's not even a "few people falling through the cracks" situation anymore: running into someone who obviously presents a danger to themselves or others became a rather trivial occurrence and most of these people don't get the help they desperately need even when they're actively trying to. We mostly find out about it when it's too late.
The pandemic was the cherry on top of this festering mess and the news feeding into paranoid attitudes towards strangers, dissenters, non-conformists, neurodiverse, disabled or merely "different" people have exacerbated, normalised and even justify and promote a mix of partisanship, segregation and isolation reflected by a pervasive "us versus them" mentality, suspicion, open discrimination and hate, shunning and even punishing others "preemptively".
Meanwhile, the majority of the population seems to be struggling with various mental issues - some more serious than others - and people are left to fend for themselves or end up being offered expensive, ineffective and often dangerous "help", while bystanders are usually split between throwing stones and treating mental illness like a character flaw and those who go through extravagant mental gymnastics to justify and defend toxic and dangerous behaviours and actions.
TLDR: It seems to me that the mental health care system in the first world is turning into a colossal failure, coming back at us with a vengeance and most people seem oblivious or indifferent to how incredibly dangerous this is and how much it's affecting us both as a society and individuals.