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comment by Sergio RW · 2021-01-12T04:30:07.477Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I couldn’t agree more, great post, I would only add the importance of having, as a child, a loving, functional nurturing.

comment by Yu_jen71 · 2021-01-12T06:56:37.682Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

It would be good to hear what the author suggests as interventions but I definitely agree with the concern raised here.

comment by Jkeeling · 2021-01-12T06:51:16.944Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the writer that the overall tone of EA conferences and in general, in the US is not one of empathy and compassion.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-01-12T07:00:26.365Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

It's hard to comment on "overall tone", since any given person's experience of a conference will be unique to them. 

I don't mean this as contradictory to your impressions, but I've personally found the EA community to be tremendously empathetic (as I had expected from people who choose to devote their lives to helping others), and this has extended to my own experience with mental health. I've had really excellent support from CEA's team when I was dealing with a depressive episode, and when I was trying to help a friend who had experienced a psychotic break.

comment by andresrosales · 2021-01-12T07:05:36.481Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

All of these are good points, thanks.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-01-12T07:11:38.197Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think you meant this as a reply to this comment [EA(p) · GW(p)]. You may want to delete it and repost it as a reply, by clicking the "reply" button below the comment.

comment by liuxen1 · 2021-01-12T07:00:26.592Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Any suggestions on starting a meditation routine?

comment by altusherjeff · 2021-01-12T06:58:13.939Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I am curious to know what the readers think about the point on males being covertly depressed

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-01-12T06:48:45.795Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Discussing which interventions have the highest impact on mental health is beyond the scope of this article, but it most likely starts with the adoption of some introspective or spiritual practice, optimized nutrition, sleep and exercise, and the creation of strong bonds with others where vulnerability is encouraged.

There has been substantial discussion of promising mental health interventions on the EA Forum and elsewhere. The "Mental Health [? · GW]" tag (which was applied to this post, though I don't know if it was by the author or someone else) collects most of the relevant posts. 

People seeing this might also be interested in the work of the Happier Lives Institute more generally.

Keep in mind that, while it's tempting to call for sweeping change across many areas (e.g. making meditation classes "mandatory" in schools, "optimizing" nutrition), progress tends to happen in many small, concrete steps: a tiny shift in public policy, a useful new paper, the launch of a new charity, and so on. It's easier to bring a cause to someone's attention when you have a suggestion for how they can take action.

Also remember that there's always a question of who we should be aiming to help. Meditation education in schools might be more promising* in locations where therapy and medication are relatively accessible, but EA-affiliated mental health charities tend to focus on making therapy and medication easier to get in locations with a relatively low standard of living.

*I haven't read any RCTs on school-based meditation training for children, so I don't actually know how it compares to expanded therapy/medication access. This was just a hypothetical example.

It seems to be even worse in males, where the admittance of one’s insecurities and doubts is less common amongst male friend groups.

I'm not sure about this claim; Our World in Data finds slightly higher prevalence of "mental or substance disorders" in females. But this may be skewed by the addition of substance-use disorders. And "even worse" could be defined in a few ways: overall prevalence, number of deaths,  willingness to seek help, etc.

comment by Jkeeling · 2021-01-12T06:52:54.965Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Aaron I think the point they are making is that this mental health concern has not been properly incorporated into everyday interactions. I agree with you that there are good long term resources.

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2021-01-12T07:09:41.699Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

The post made several points, of which I responded to some but not others. I did find myself a bit conflicted on the point you mentioned:

Personal conversation regarding one's emotions too often takes a backseat to other more intellectually-charged topics. Vulnerability - the willingness to talk and listen to others talk about their suffering and shame - is hard to encounter.

EA groups often bring people together as friends, and vulnerability is a major facet of friendship. But I'd expect that EA groups in and of themselves (e.g. at official meetings where people don't necessarily know each other closely) would mostly be focused on intellectual topics. And I'd hope that, if someone found a local/university EA group to be insufficiently focused on this kind of conversation, they'd be able to find that kind of support in other social settings. 

(A group might end up having some personally-focused activities as well. For example, I'd hope that a group retreat would make space for vulnerability and personal bonding. But I also understand if a group doesn't do much of this, especially when they are physically separated by pandemic conditions.)