In today’s Western society are we missing the point of education? We have more free education available for every individual than ever before, more choices in career than ever before, we are wealthier society in comparison to the rest of the world, so why is mental illness and loneliness on the increase at an epidemic level?
In the UK the government has allocated a ministry to help the lonely in society.
When we peel back the layers to have a look at why individuals are lonely and what makes a person happy it seems to boil down to one thing – relationships.
The following extract from the American Psychological Association press release shows a summary of the contributing factors to the loneliness epidemic;
“Such “epidemics,” while not confined to rich countries, are linked to prominent features of affluent culture: longer life expectancy, decreasing marriage rates, people having fewer children, more people getting divorced, and more people living alone. “ stated Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. (APA, 2017)
The article went on to say – Holt-Lunstad recommended a greater priority be placed on research and resources to tackle this public health threat from the societal to the individual level. For instance, greater emphasis could be placed on social skills training for children in schools and doctors should be encouraged to include social connectedness in medical screening (APA, 2017).
In Europe, Middle East as well as in Asia people appear to be happier than those of us in the Western countries.
With closer observation we notice the major difference in those Nations is the way the family unit relates and remains together.
A typical Italian family lives close to each other, gets together for family celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries a lot more frequently than we do. When young couple get married they can depend on their parents financial support as well as physical support for when grandchildren arrive on the scene.
The same can be said about Middle Eastern families and families in Asia. Family members don’t always get along nicely but they are always involved in each other’s lives – for better or for worse. This gives the individual a sense of knowing that if they are ever in a difficulty family will be there to support them. Parents often think about the financial future of their children when they are working hard and accumulating wealth. Unless there is war, the wealth of the family is passed down increasingly from generation to generation. For this reason cutting off family relationships are rare.
Imagine if there were certain relationship skills that could be taught where families could sustainably relate with one another in a healthier way.
What would it mean for a Society if families were to stay together throughout their life? If more couples were able to remain committed to one another, raising children who could depend on their parents to always be there for them through thick and thin., I wonder if it would decrease mental illness, depression and anxiety. I wonder if loneliness would be dramatically reduced. And what it would mean for the health and well-being of the individual.
Now let’s imagine essential yet unique relationship skills required for lifelong relationships were taught to every individual in society. The kind of relationship skills that would promote emotional intelligence and help resolve conflicts effectively. With 49% divorce rate, imagine couples staying together for life because they enjoy their relationship rather than out of obligation to do so.
Human beings are relational creatures. Unless we are in healthy relationships it is not easy for us to find happiness and fulfillment, even with the most successful career we could possibly have.
As educators there is an enormous responsibility to raise generations of individuals who are well adjusted and contributing members of society, who in turn will raise the following generations of well-adjusted contributing members of society. It all begins with addressing the relationship between the couple.
This is the vision for which Grassroots Approach program is designed. For every individual to learn essential and unique relational skills to create, as well as maintain, healthy family life.
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