Ramp Capital asked an interesting question on Twitter last week which garnered mostly serious answers.
Name a societal norm that 50 years from now people will look back and say WTF.
— Ramp Capital ♿️ (@RampCapitalLLC) October 6, 2019
In the moment I had a hard time coming up anything, but after some reflection an answer did come to mind:
50 years from now we will treat mental illness in the same manner we now treat other medical conditions.
Being solidly in the Generation X cohort I have seen the issue of mental illness, in all its forms, go from being (essentially) not spoken about to one that is now much more openly discussed. I would argue that this is a good thing. Who knows what strides medicine and psychiatry may take during this time but it it safe to say that mental illness will still be among us.
Comedian Gary Gulman was recently on The Moment with Brian Koppelman to discuss his struggles with depression and his (now) released special “The Great Depresh” on HBO. It is well worth a listen, if for no other reason than to hear two friends discuss Gulman’s journey. It is heartening to hear how he Gulman (thankfully) came out on the other side.
The discussion of depression, and other forms of mental illness, were for a long time the provenance solely of artists, but that barrier has come down. Mental illness is now much more widely discussed in the startup world. And it is now a topic for the workplace as well. It is hard to see how the issue now in the open, could go back to being unspoken about and shameful, to boot.
There is now an ongoing debate about the causes (and cures) for what is described as the rising number of “deaths of despair” in America. I don’t know if the increased willingness to talk about mental illness is a leading or lagging indicator. In either case it is happening. Here’s hoping, fifty years from now standup comedians will have to find other areas of the human condition to joke about.