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The Well-being Of Our Citizens as a Nation: Gross National Happiness

A few years ago I vacationed alone in San Francisco. While sightseeing, I took a tour on an open air bus from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. While we were travelling across the bridge, a lady turned around in her seat and began telling me about this documentary where people were filmed jumping to […]

A few years ago I vacationed alone in San Francisco. While sightseeing, I took a tour on an open air bus from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. While we were travelling across the bridge, a lady turned around in her seat and began telling me about this documentary where people were filmed jumping to their deaths off the bridge. She had no idea who I was, what my vocation entailed, nor if I was interested to hear what she was saying. I felt a mixture of emotions as my guard was down emotionally being on vacation, meaning I did not expect such a serious conversation. Vacations are meant for the mind to relax! Once I returned home to Knoxville, I watched ‘The Bridge,’ finding this film very moving. Suicide is increasing in our society today.

According to the Washington Post’s article by By Amy Ellis Nutt:,

“Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the people had no known mental health condition when they ended their lives.”

Yesterday, I met a teacher from a local high school, and when I heard where she worked, I brought up the topic of suicide.Being aware the school had several suicides a few years back, I delved into the topic. She matter of factly stated the suicide epidemic has continued, and she has lost several students. Her viewpoint contributed the uptick in suicides to social media, stating “the students do not think they are good enough.” We continued the conversation to include changes in administration, and focus from the guidance office and psychologists to provide mental health services for the students.

Having worked in the mental health services field for over 20 years, I have noticed many of our services respond to crises. There is a great need for an increase in prevention services, including classes on well-being and resilience skills. What does this look like? Where would we have the classes? Everywhere is the answer.

Well-being officers are being established in hospital systems and Ivy League schools on the ‘C’ level. Researchers are finding despite having strong skills in resilience, many doctors leave their professions due to the system being beyond frustrating for them to work in. Read more here: https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20181025.308059/full/

The first step is to assess our needs. There is wonderful research pointing to the efficacy of the well-being model being implemented in our US Army. Read more here: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/master-resilience-training-mrt/

Today we heard the news of WWE’s Ashley Massaro, who commited suicide. Her friend stated Ashley had just responded to 300 fan letters, and she seemed happier than ever. Read more here:

These  initiatives are happening in  governments with well-being, happiness, and resilience skills building. Countries are paying attention, and they are putting the well-being of their citizens in equal importance to their GNP (Gross National Product). Let’s add the concept defined by the government of Bhutan, Gross National Happiness. This would set the example and blaze the trail to place more importance on life instead of crisis response to death.

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