Capitalism is Destroying Our Mental Health

 It’s not just a 9-5 gig, capitalism is bleeding us dry everywhere.

If life was only being drained by a 9-5 job then our mental health would still be in an appalling state. We work too many days and too many hours. It’s why we at least need to change the working week to four days. By 5pm too, most people are exhausted and then there is also the commute, making it more like a 7-7 day. Time with co-workers often outdoes time spent with family members. It’s not good enough.

Social media has provided capitalists and employers a new way to put pressure on the workforce. This isn’t a problem with social media, but of the people who use it. A friend request from a boss isn’t innocuous whenever you need to take time off but can’t go online at all in case your boss thinks you’re skiving. Being friends with someone in a superior position on social media also means that you feel beholden to answer emails out of working hours, because if you have time to tweet then there’s a silent expectation you can read an email. There’s just no logging off from capitalism. It’s a drain that follows us about all day long.

We have some of the longest working hours in Europe, and we’re about to leave the EU which could seriously risk throwing out the few workers’ rights we do have. Not only that but wages are often poor. The attempts to ramp up wages with a Living Wage hasn’t been good enough. Progress is far too slow, and the impact is being offset anyway when there’s a rise in inflation. The pound is about as stable as our government.

The result is that capitalism barely gives us enough to live on. Rents are unaffordable but they’re at least closer to being affordable than a house. Energy prices are a nightmare every winter which is why so many have to choose between ‘heating or eating’ which is just dangerous. Disposable income is treated as a luxury rather than a right. Capitalism is destroying our souls.

“Capitalism is destroying our souls”

The pressures are just too much. It’s not about our generation being snowflakes. Millennials are expected to pay down the debt left by boomers. It’s about exploitation. Older generations exploiting a younger workforce by ramping up the pressures of working life while taking away the same opportunities that they once enjoyed.

Yet, that’s when work can even be found. Being unemployed in the UK can be excruciatingly traumatic and humiliating. From the Job Centre tracking how many applications you make a week, to punitive sanctions to disabled people having their disabilities dismissed as a reason for support, those who don’t or can’t find work are left with few options. These petty humiliations though are expected to be endured. In fact, Conservatives are often smug about it believing those who want to work will put the effort in and everyone else is out for themselves. It’s a disgusting, cynical attitude that sees some of the poorest in society being punished while the richest are exploiting workers.

It’s taking its toll. It’s estimated that anywhere between one in four and one in six people in the UK will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life. In the UK though, there is limited support with a bed shortage (which has seen mental health patients being held in police cells) and cuts to services. Austerity has cut services people depend on while the rat-race of capitalism is exhausting the population. It means many end up in despair. Stories are spoken of people who have lost their job or can’t find work and then died as a result. But depression, stress and anxiety can be prevented or at least minimised with the right support, and sometimes that support means having a system in the first place that doesn’t make everyone burn out.

Our society is mentally and physically unsustainable. We shouldn’t be working ourselves to death and we should have a society that is organised in a way so that we’re encouraged to enjoy our free time. Life shouldn’t be about productivity or work. It is not radical to think that citizens should have enough to live on and not face the risk of poverty. The very essence of capitalism is about rushing to the top by ensuring people are trapped on the bottom. It is a degrading system, and one that must be addressed.

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