The word “crisis” seems to permeate every area of today’s society. While many might think the word to be used too lightly, it is one that certainly fits the current mental health landscape. Today, despite people suffering more than ever before, access to effective care remains a luxury that only a few can access. Mental health advocate and investor Seth Taube is determined to make it easier for more people to get the support they need.
Mental health professionals have been aware of the ongoing mental health crisis for decades. In 1929, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was already pointing to what he called the “general neurosis of our age.” In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations estimated that over one billion were living with diagnosable mental health conditions. This number has more than doubled since, in only four years.
“These statistics show that there has been progress when it comes to recognizing the prevalence of mental health challenges and talking about them openly,” says Seth Taube. “The problem is no longer a lack of awareness but lack of effective action by global leadership.”
The lack of effective action is evidenced by the challenges that people face when it comes to addressing mental health needs. Despite proving to be more open to discussing their own struggles and seeking help, suicide remains the 2nd leading cause of death for those between 10-14, the third leading cause of death for those between 15-24, and the 12th leading cause of death for Americans of all ages.
“The rate at which young people are considering, attempting, and committing suicide is a clear indication of how the current system has failed at a critical moment in history,” adds Taube. “We need to make sure support is more readily available and that we understand as a society that these conditions are not a matter of willpower. Mental health care shouldn’t be a luxury service.”
Through his work with the Seth B. Taube Foundation, Progressive Therapeutics and the Ketamine Research Foundation, Taube has focused his efforts on making mental health care more accessible. With that purpose in mind, Taube’s foundation has invested millions of dollars in organizations and individuals using technology for that purpose. His latest company works on novel treatments and approaches to revolutionize mental health care.
“Today’s narrative seems to be focused on the ‘why’ of the crisis instead of how to solve it. We all know the reasons at an emotional level,” explains Taube, who has become better known over the years for his philanthropic efforts. “Understanding that we can’t fix the world and create a healing economy overnight, understanding the ‘why’ should be left to professionals in a therapeutic setting as no two cases are the same.”
Data shows that access to mental health care remains elusive, with conditions like depression being treated in only 33% of the cases in high-income countries and 3% in low-income countries. At the national level, mental health care has also been found to be less prevalent among minorities and low-income households.
“When it comes to mental health care, many don’t have access, or have to jump through hoops to get proper mental health care if you are not part of the 1%... That’s if you have the time, resources, support, and more importantly, energy to even consider it,” says Taube. “We have many tools at our disposal that could help us change this. Whether it is technology, the arts, or psychedelics, we need to start using them.”
With the risks of AI, widespread layoffs across all industries, generational clashes, international armed conflict, and uncertainty at all of society’s levels, the problem of mental health care is more pressing than ever. While leaders, organizations, and celebrities use their platforms to push for change just like Taube is doing, much more is needed. After all, while mental health care remains a luxury, mental health conditions do not.
Photography by: Courtesy of Seth Taube