Can The Happy Few Lead Us to Sustainability?
A recent survey ranked business owners as the happiest class of worker. But government data I looked at last year shows that architects are relatively unlikely to endure prolonged depression on the job. Many kneejerk jokes can follow this news. None are funny.
This idea that creative types can be happier challenges the sustainable economy. If we continue to presume that we’ll adjust to climate change by following design wizards rather than by building industries for skilled and unskilled workers, we’re due for a dangerous disappointment. Climate change is depressing- and the way to counter its grim force lies in marshaling a range of resources, not just creative ones, to adjust our economy to its effects.
We need to make our economy one that maximizes resilience and endurance, even while it creates happiness.
In 2006, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration started breaking down annual surveys about “major depressive episodes” by job. The surveyors interviewed 70000 randomly selected adults, said agency spokesman Brad Stone, and found that seven of every 100 workers had gone two weeks with “loss of interest or pleasure and four other symptoms” like sleeplessness, lethargy, distraction and low self-image.
But among architects, surveyors and engineers, only 4.3% of respondents experienced such episodes- the lowest rate among all job categories. The highest incidence of depression, 10.8%, occurred among personal care and service workers.
This precise definition corresponds to the American Psychological Association’s terms, Stone said. It does not deal with workplace stress or other blocks to well-being. Depressive periods came up more often among workers under age 25 across all jobs. “Looking at professions that have an impact on public health or safety, ” Stone offered, “it’s valuable to everyone to address the status of those workers and what society might want to do to address their needs.”
Society must enlisting everyone to prepare for a wetter, stormier world. Fear and depression are just two of the factors our designers and joiners and therapists and clerks will have to address.
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