Mental Transition

Mental Transition

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Why mental health?

Of all the challenges there are to solve in the world, why is so much of my passion and time given to resolving mental health issues?

For me, it is about understanding its future impact on society.

I spent the first part of my entrepreneurial career as a direct marketer. Essentially, a direct marketer uses information about people, and knowledge of the human mind, to sell people things. In many respects, it is about manipulating people towards a desired outcome. Over time, I developed a deep understanding of how the biases of the human mind are leveraged in both positive and negative ways, and I started to become uncomfortable with the direction in which the world was going. Once I understood the impact of ever-accelerating technology on the human mind, I started to realise that something had to change – quickly.

In our world today, there are legions of people who are highly trained to grab our attention and / or get us to do things. Every newspaper, media company, marketing organisation, government and industry is vying for attention and attempting to steer us into performing certain actions and behaviours.  We are seeing the development of technology that uses better and better information and tools to achieve this, and the rapid pace of this technological revolution is well beyond our cognitive limits. This systematically creates a massively unsustainable mental burden on society.

Mental illness rates are exploding right now – and the world is completely unprepared to deal with what is going on.

When you walk into a room and see every individual looking into their smart phones, disconnected from everyone else, then you see what we have become. I am compassionate towards these people, because I am one of them. I don’t get angry or frustrated, because I am fully aware that this isn’t a fair fight – people simply don’t recognise what is happening. Our education systems make little reference to neuroscience, and yet, collectively, the organisations that ‘sell’ products, services, attitudes and lifestyle to us spend billions and billions on it.

So much of what is going on in the world is linked to this. Whether it’s political dynamics like Trumpism and Brexit; the explosion in lifestyle diseases; or even climate change – you can trace the essence of it in our collective manipulation. Rapidly networked information and misinformation can mislead and set people against one another, causing social division, stress, anxiety, depression, anger, protest, terrorism – and even war.

Within our lifetime, we will have to develop solutions to keep us mentally thriving, even when the tools grabbing our attention and manipulating us are massively more effective than they are now. Whether through advertising, marketing, entertainment, social media or news coverage – we are bombarded with information that affects us – emotionally, psychologically and physically. As with cigarettes, alcohol and sugar- there is a point at which we will have to understand the overall consequences of  information technology on human thriving.

I strongly advise you, your community or organisation, to learn all there is to know about the human mind and do all you can to upgrade your individual and collective cognitive capacity. If not, you are under-investing in the knowledge and skills to help you to transition in the world that lies ahead of us.

Despite all this, I am really optimistic about the future. I have seen enough to believe that we can – and will – decode the human mind to transcend its current limitations, to guide ourselves to a wonderful, peaceful and collective future.

To learn more about this subject, join us at the world’s most ambitious mental health event Thrive2020 on Friday 13th of October.

Disclaimer: This article has been deliberately written to persuade you of the importance of this issue, and to make you more likely to attend this event. I am deeply sorry about that…

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  1. I appreciate the message, and am wondering what you think about the possibilities for neuroscience and personalized AI (what I’ve called AI Butlers) to give us defensive tools–especially awareness of our vulnerabilities?

    Why are you sorry about the disclaimer? I’d like to see a culture arise in which all persuasive messages were expected to carry similar disclaimers. Those that didn’t would be downvoted. Those that did, but the disclaimer was itself manipulative/persuasive rather than factual, would also be downvoted (perhaps even more so).

    What’s not to love about that?

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