This article was originally published in Discourse Magazine.

We can help solve our mental health crisis by getting out of our own heads

Beyond a given point man is not helped by more “knowing,” but only by living and doing in a partly self-forgetful way. As Goethe put it, we must plunge into experience and then reflect on the meaning of it. All reflection and no plunging drives us mad; all plunging and no reflection, and we are brutes.

― Ernest Becker, “The Denial of Death

A growing chorus of psychologists, educators, politicians, business leaders, and influencers is sounding the alarm about an American mental health crisis. Many propose that we need more public conversations about mental health and are urging individuals to prioritize and advocate for their own well-being. Though such guidance is well-intentioned, asking Americans to spend more time thinking and talking about their mental health may actually be part of the problem. As a society, we are fixating on our inner lives more than ever, yet we are becoming more, not less, psychologically distressed. We need a different approach, one that encourages more outward-focused action and less inward-focused talk.

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