An increasing amount of research is showing that with unemployment, poor working conditions, and heavy financial burdens affecting so many people, the nation is experiencing an emotional crisis on par with the financial crisis. The Mental Health Foundation released the results of its national mental health index survey on Tuesday last week. The survey shows that the nation is failing in the areas of mental and physical health and feelings of personal worth, and more than 40 percent of the respondents said they “do not believe the future will be better.”
Tom Yang, chief psychiatrist at Cardinal Tien Hospital’s department of psychiatry and mental health, says that mental and physical health are intimately connected, and says not to assume that getting plenty of sleep is enough to stay healthy mentally and physically. Hu Hai-guo, president of the foundation which ran the study, says that from 2004 to 2012 as many as 2.18 million people were feeling unhappy, but says that, “People should not expect someone like President Ma Ying-jeou to lead everyone out of Egypt.” Hu hopes that people can learn how to become strong enough mentally to get through all of their emotional valleys.
The foundation’s grading system evaluated four categories in all, including family health, mental and physical health, personal worth and the ability to control one’s life. The average adult scored 81.6 points out of 100 on mental health, a borderline pass score (80 out of 100 points) and dangerously close to the low average score seen during the financial crisis of 2008 (80.1 points).
While family health passed with an average individual score of 87.9 percent, mental and physical health as well as personal worth did not. More than 30 percent of respondents said they are dispirited, lack motivation, have poor memory, are anxious and nervous and do not sleep well, while around 30 percent also said they are dissatisfied with their achievements in life. The lowest score in the survey was the 43 percent who said they “do not think the future will be better.” The survey also found that an estimated three million people in Taiwan are suffering from low pyschological resilience, often doubting themselves, and being overly pessimistic, without knowing how to get help.
Yang says that people experiencing “social hopelessness” often feel frustrated and less motivated about life, causing some to seek unrealistic ways to feel happy, such as using drugs like ketamine. Some people, on the other hand, mistakenly think that all they need is plenty of sleep, and simply go to the doctor for sleeping pills and nothing else.
Yang says that if a person is overly stressed for an extended period of time, it can cause them to have excessively high cortisone levels, which can affect memory, lower your immunity, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and cause dyspepsia, or even mental breakdowns. He suggests making sure that you are able to do what he calls “the three cans and the four vents.” The “cans” include being able to sleep well, and exercise and laugh enough, while the “four vents” include being able to talk to someone about your problems, sing songs, write a happy diary entry and exercise whenever you are in a bad mood. These activities can help increase the amount of “happy hormones” released in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and endorphin, Yang says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)