The picture is clear. Most of the world is broke and hasn’t a penny to scratch its arse with. The western world has been living beyond its means for 30 years and will bump along the bottom of the economic curve for another 10 years at least before the debts are paid off. Whoever thought that living on such huge debt was a good idea anyway, be it personal, corporate or sovereign? How did we blindly party our way into the current mess, thinking it was all rosy and would never end? And what effect will this have on health?
The last 30 years have seen big reductions in musculoskeletal ill health, work related injury and disease, cancer and heart disease rates and many other improvements. Correspondingly, the same period has seen a huge rise in mental ill health, particularly depression and anxiety (note to kids – during the next boom, become a shrink). It seems that when we think we can have it all, we get rather stressed by the idea, don’t believe we should really have it, struggle to pay for it and are a lot happier when we have given most of it back.
Only history and long term research will give the answer but I predict that once we have adapted to the “new normal” our expectation levels will be much lower and therefore more easily met. Unrealistic expectation is the enemy of mental wellbeing in just the same way that Barbie doll figures and high fashion are the enemy of stable weight and sensible eating.
The Irish are arguably one of the most put upon and downtrodden nations in history. Their reaction to the Eurozone crisis has been to think “well, life’s always been a bit crap and we never had much before so it’s back to business as normal” They seem not too unhappy with the return of their particular status quo. Other parts of Europe on the other hand, well…
Some sort of stability will return in the next couple of years even though there may be some big bumps along the way but once it has, we may find ourselves with a bit less but a lot happier (note to kids – for the time being, get into waste management or something).