Here in the UK, it’s been mental health week. These awareness bandwagons can get a bit much (International Talk Like a Pirate Day, anyone?) but mental health affects us all – and mental disorders are still poorly understood, even by scientists.
So it was an opportune moment for Guardian journalists to look at some of the new approaches to confronting this scourge of our times, from school experiments, and new carer roles to the emergence of “recovery colleges”.
You can download the entire mental health supplement here.
The key message, which we hardly need to spell out, is that disability – mental or physical – really does not have to mean the end to productive life.
David Harewood’s work since a psychotic episode 30 years ago amply demonstrates this, as does Jon Powton’s experience as a physically disabled man who has nonetheless revelled in becoming a foster parent.
The number of people attempting the treacherous journey to Europe across the Mediterranean appears to have fallen sharply, and the death toll is also on course to be lower than in previous years. Though before celebrating, we should be careful to examine why.
What we liked
Get out your headphones, for this is such a lovely story of youth, daring and espionage, all set to a 1980s soundtrack, that you will listen to the end.
We also admired people who mend clothes, and don’t just dump them in the bin, courtesy of PositiveNews.
Also, a simple tweet from Ola Rosling…
What we heard
Thank you for all your emails about alternatives to GDP/growth. We are going to pull this together into a big piece in June. Herewith a flavour of what you said – but first, check out how New Zealand plans to shift its economic focus towards wellbeing and away from growth for growth’s sake.
What if we questioned the existence of Growth? GDP, an invention of the 20th-century world war economies with historical predecessors, is criticized for its narrow and discriminating view of what constitutes a state’s social and economic wealth.
It lost its raison d’être with the end of wars between nation states on a global scale. Alternative systems emerge already. New Zealand’s “well-being budget” is an attempt to add another dimension.
Janina Priebe, from Umeå, Sweden, via email
Infinite growth on a finite planet is a liberal economist fantasy around which we have erroneously based the core assumptions which guide our teaching of economics. Policymakers, analysts, consultants and financial actors all go through this same quasi-religious indoctrination in their introductory economics courses which treat a narrow view of economics as gospel, and is rightfully being challenged by groups like Rethinking Economics and Exploring Economics. Until a pluralistic approach to economics is the norm, it should come as no surprise that our economies are steering us down the path to extinction.
Hamish Forbes (@HsimahForbes) via email
I believe we are not going to sort of the problems of the world until we change our economic system to one called a Resource Based Economy (RBE).
Phil Smart, via email
We seem to think as long as we reach enough economic growth that would automatically solve all our problems like unemployment and poverty. De-growth is the flipside of this thinking; since our environmental problems are caused by economic growth, de-growth will automatically solve them. Instead we should start from thinking what we want to achieve. Personally, I would suggest happiness and a good life for all, including both present and future generation. Whether the path towards this goal would result to growth or de-growth is not essential.
Jan Kunnas, from Jyväskylä, Finland, via email
Thanks for picking up this topic. It’s brilliant! Please don’t leave it as a one-off. I’ve come across VOLT in Germany where I am eligible to vote. It is very much a fringe Party and not well-known, probably due to its lack of funding.
Sue McInerney, responding to Jon Henley’s piece about transnational parties in the European elections
Where was the Upside?
At the US company that froze executive pay so it could double the salary of its most junior employees.
Also in Vienna, city of Graham Greene and Ultravox – and gender mainstreaming.
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