Society and Mental Illness

“Nearly 50% of adults experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.” However, only about a fifth of them every try to receive help. In terms of mental illness, one can have a mental disability or simply be displaying traits of a mental illness brought on by extreme situations, such as grief. It is often difficult to distinguish between the two; thus mental illness and mental health are considered as a continuum.

Before, anyone who was considered ‘not mentally stable’ was placed into asylums and institutions. However, within the last few decades there have been developments to “deinstitutionalize” mental hospital patients and try to immerse them in society more. This development, called the Olmstead decision, strives to treat people in community settings. One method of doing so is using family as a form of treatment for outpatients instead of returning to the institution. This way, stronger familial bonds are formed and the mentally ill people become accustomed to being social and less isolated. Yet the Olmstead decision has some very dire downfalls. While some mentally ill people have family or community and home settings, many do not. Because law now prevents people who are not harmful to themselves or to others from being institutionalized, many mentally ill people end up homeless and without help. Studies show that a web of supporters helps people with mental conditions or disabilities manage themselves, so countermeasures have popped up around the country to help those who need it. What I understand is that while society as an institution has left many people out on the street, society (as composed of individuals) is there to help support those with mental disabilities.

$100?! What the f***!?

A couple of nights ago I was graced with the opportunity to go to the emergency room for a very stupid injury. Everyone was incredibly kind and helpful, and I was patched up in no time. I was ready to leave, had my insurance out and everything, expecting the cost to be about $50. Yet when I reached the discharge window the woman said, “Ok sweetheart that will be $100.” I was like, $100?! What the f***!? This experience opened my eyes to just how grave the medical inequality situation is. If I, a middle class college student found that amount to be outrageous, what must it be like for those who struggle each day just to stay alive?

Here at home we are able to enjoy warm clothes, a good education and some fun every now and then. Yet due to the unequal access to resources in underdeveloped and third world nations, people are struggling to find food and proper healthcare. This lack of access to resources is a form of structural violence in which those with resources have continued access to them, while those without remain without. This social inequality is defined by the unhealthy situations that some people live in, and their economic inability to get help. While that $100 was a dip in the bank account for me, it would be a lifetime’s savings for those who are without.

The Science of Kinship in Bronze Age Greece

Early in this semester we learned about kinship and how to map out relationships between individuals. In terms of affinal kinship, individuals are connected by substance, or blood. Modern science and technology can help us determine such relationships via DNA testing. A couple of years ago a team lead by John Prag re-investigated archaeological finds at the Bronze Age Greek site of Mycenae. Years prior to this study Prag and his partner Richard Neave had examined the remains of multiple individuals and were able to determine that one man and one woman were related based on face shape. When Prag returned with his team in 2008, he was able to extract DNA samples from the two individuals and found out that they were actually in the consanguineal relationship of brother and sister. The DNA from both individuals showed that they were of the same haplo group, essentially meaning that they had a very close common ancestor. The individual’s maternal lineage was traced, for scientists studied their maternal (mitochondrial) DNA, or mtDNA. This field of anthropology, bioarchaeology, is incredibly useful in trying to determine relationships of figures that lived thousands of years ago. Even in modern times, biological and forensic anthropology can be used to determine lineal descent through methods such as blood testing and DNA matching.

“Evolution” (?) of Communication

While sitting next to my friend she suddenly said, “communication is awful!” To be honest, I have to agree. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Myspace, dating sites, chat rooms, texting, etc. Methods of communication have drastically changed over the last decade or so. Some may argue that the change was for the better, since we can now easily and quickly communicate with people outside of our area code. However, I beg to differ. Yes, we have more amazing ways to talk and interact with others who are far away, as in if I am on the continent of Australia and you are sitting in your dorm room, we can have a perfectly good conversation on the phone or through video chat. But have you noticed that when people are sitting right next to each other, more often than not they are on their phones or their devices?

50 years ago, to ask someone out one would call their house multiple times or ask them in person at school. Nowadays, one is lucky if they receive a call, for the main methods of communication are through these little “personal” devices. Personal in the fact that they are intended for the use of a singular person, not in the sense that they make our lives and interactions more personal. We have become absorbed in the universe that is personal technology. For a good portion of our generation, it is important to check all these apps with short videos, and images that delete themselves after a few seconds, and status updates. Why are we so reliant on these apps and programs? I know that for some, it is a way of feeling connected to others. Some may also try to remain connected via technology. I respect and understand that. I also respect the fact that people do not have to verbally communicate to have healthy relationships, whether friends or more. People can just sit together, and if they want, they can use their personal devices. But when technological communication takes precedence to personal, face-to-face communication (or at least using our voices to communicate) I think that there is a problematic topic worth addressing. Yes, the technology of the world is advancing and aiding us in many ways. But as a result, has communication really ‘evolved’?

To read more about this topic, click here for a professional article on the Evolution of Communication.

Gun Culture: Why not US?

So a few days ago I was scrolling through BBC Asia when I saw an article about a deadly shooting in South Korea. Early Tuesday morning a man open fired in a convenience store, killing three people. In South Korea, it is against the law to possess or distribute guns. One can only have a gun if they are security personnel, and hunters must keep their guns locked up in police stations. However, most men have experience using firearms due to South Korea’s compulsory military service. Annually, the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 0.06 (GunPolicy).

Great Britain has the “reputation of having some of the tightest gun control laws in the world.” (Library of Congress) The Firearms Act of 1968 defines a ‘prohibited weapon’ and dictates what is illegal in terms of those weapons. It is an offense to “possess, purchase, acquire, manufacture, sell, or transfer these prohibited weapons without the written authority of the Defence Council or Scottish Ministers.” Therefore the only people who are legally able to have guns are officers, members of the armed forces, or those with permission from the Home Secretary. Annually, the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 0.23.

Gun Laws Comparison

Right here in the United States the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people is 10.3. Over the last five years there has been an increase in gun-related crimes. We as a nation are divided over the issue of making stricter laws concerning gun possession, especially considering the recent Newtown shooting. Firstly there is the debate of whether current gun laws are sufficient or whether more should be implemented. Then there is the issue of whether less guns would be safer, or more guns – like having guns in schools – would offer more protection. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing issue for many decades. In the 1990’s, there was a deadly confrontation and siege at Ruby Ridge that resulted in controversy over the actions of federal agents going after the Weaver family. There is still disagreement over “which side” open fired first, but a woman and a young adult were killed in the process, thus escalating the event to a national level. The public was divided over federal rights vs. personal rights, just as it is today. Who should be trusted with guns? Higher ups and people with experience so that they can help prevent crime, or the public so that they can protect themselves?

Concussion’s Memory Problem

Concussions are no light topic. Having suffered more than one myself, I can honestly say that they can be scary, especially when memory is involved. It has been long known that contact sports can cause serious head injuries. In fact, the American public has been aware of this fact since the late 19th century, as in, the 1800’s. Yet despite this awareness the so-called “concussion crisis” is not as big of an issue as it should be. In the week before the Super Bowl, Emily Harrison recently wrote an article in light of the publicity around the incident of ball-deflating where she states that while the news was blowing up over whether or not one competing team purposely deflated balls, there was an even bigger issue that was going virtually unnoticed. People who were appalled at the frenzy of attention to so trivial a matter advocated that the big hullabaloo was in all actuality a means of distracting from the major issues involving the NFL; namely, concussions and law suits regarding head injuries.

The crisis of concussions and the effects of such injuries has been pushed under the rug repeatedly over the years by the politicking of the NFL. In fact, this has been a recurring problem over the last hundred or so years because of the covering up by football’s supporters. There are current studies of head injuries in football, but similar studies were going on during the Progressive Era when football boomed as a sport. In the process of trying to legitimize football as an American sport, the problem of injuries has been forgotten over and over again.

Nowadays there are advocacy groups that are striving to prioritize public awareness and make it an issue rather than a hushed-up topic. This form of organization did not exist in the past. Thankfully as a result, the issue of concussions is no longer just a concern for collegiate-level sports; it is now a “public health problem whose impact has spread across the population and raised particular alarm for its effects on children.” These advocacy groups and everyday citizens are working hard to keep clear eyes on the honest goal of risk reduction. Many people who look past the sport itself, the industry, and its popularity will continue to advocate for safety instead of submitting to the media stream that keeps the sport alive.