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mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there are tell an interesting story; many countries that have high rates of depression, for instance, are "happy countries". the happy finns are more depressed than most europeans. the netherlands have one of the most depressed populations in the developed world, but also one of the happiest.  [i've singled out depression, because it's a disorder that fluctuates by country. rates of conditions like schizophrenia are pretty consistent.]

that is not to say that depressed people make for happy countries. the world's worst conflict zones are unhappy and disproportionately depressed. poland is unhappy, especially by european standards, but not depressed. the fact is that "happiness" is ephemeral. the report gives a definition that's measurable, but not all-encompassing. still, their careful methodology gives us something to work from. and it does give some interesting clues.

first and most obvious: money does, to some extent, buy happiness. even though the wealthiest country, the united states, languishes in the drop zone of the top twenty, there's no arguing that wealthier countries are happier. whiteness helps at least as much, possibly more.

but one of the things that jumps out is that the happiest countries all have robust public healthcare systems. the strength of the social safety net in general seems to correlate directly with happiness. that includes education. finland has less money than its neighbours, but that doesn't appear to matter. now, social support is taken as one of the sources of happiness for the purposes of the report, but what's obvious is that, in places where the government isn't taking on the burden of providing social support, the support isn't happening.

it's just a theory, but i think that one of the things that helps is the high ratio of doctors to patients in combination with the accessibility that a public system affords. those who seek treatment and are able to get it in a timely manner are happier, even as they deal with depression.

happy countries do a particularly good job of taking care of their children. mental illness among children is a sad reality, but it gets worse when kids are exposed to trauma or stress at a young age. like, for instance, the stress of not having enough to eat.

there are many, many things that can affect how happy we feel, but it's hard not to draw the conclusion that caring for each other, including vulnerable groups like children and the mentally ill, seems to make a difference. we can recover from mental illness, but in order to be healthy, we need to create systems that can help us be happy.

p.s. :: i know that finland did not have vikings. they are a totally different people. but the viking countries do make up the rest of the top four. so happy viking is still an appropriate image.

p.p.s. :: it's wedenesday, not monday. you're not crazy, at least not in that way. 


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dj kali & mr. dna @ casa del popolo post-punk night

last night was a blast! a big thank you to dj tyg for letting us guest star on her monthly night, because we had a great time. my set was a little more reminiscent of the sets that i used to do at katacombes [i.e., less prone to strange meanderings than what you normally hear at the caustic lounge]. i actually invited someone to the night with the promise "don't worry, it'll be normal". which also gives you an idea of what to expect at the caustic lounge. behold my marketing genius.

mr. dna started off putting the "punk" into the night [which i think technically means i was responsible for the post, which doesn't sound quite so exciting]. i'd say that he definitely had the edge in the bouncy energy department.

many thanks to those who stopped in throughout the night to share in the tunes, the booze and the remarkably tasty nachos and a special thank you to the ska boss who stuck it out until the end of the night and gave our weary bones a ride home…

the war is over

i assumed that the live coverage of last weekend's "march for our lives" would be hard to watch, and in some ways, it was. however, i did not expect that it would feel so joyful and empowering as well. 
the idea that "joyful" can be used in the description of a rally around the subject of violence and death seems bizarre, and certainly many of the speeches were anything but. however, it was difficult not to watch things unfold on saturday and not have the feeling that there is a spirit of positive change. young people, younger than the much-discussed millennial demographic, are taking it to the powers that be and those powers be shakin' in their shoes.

it's hardly surprising that cheeto benito ran off to golf for the weekend rather than stay and face the music of arianna grande and common; after all, he spends every weekend on a taxpayer-funded golf holiday. nor is it surprising that congress's most vocal critics of gun reform apparently spent the …

friday favourites 20.07.12

i was almost going to skip it this week. not out of any disinterest, but i always feel weird posting something flip and cheeky on days when the news is choked with stories of some location filled with people going about their lives suddenly getting shot up by a lone maniac with some sort of personal gripe or agenda.

awful things happen every single day. people who lead otherwise normal lives are suddenly transformed through violence every single day. by the harsh standards of the world, what happened last night in aurora, colorado isn't even close to the worst. i'm sure families in syria would consider a day where ten people died to be better than average. but there is something about these completely random mass shootings in otherwise fairly peaceful places that haunts us all here in the western world. it happened today with aurora. it happened a year ago sunday in norway. it happened in another colorado town, now synonymous with the terror of such a massacre in 1999.

what h…