Boris Johnson is quite the renaissance man. He builds buses! He writes columns! He dabbles in politics! And now, it would appear, he fancies himself a intellectual fitness expert. On Sunday, Johnson used his Telegraph column to share his tremendous option to Britain’s intellectual fitness disaster: drown out your internal demons with paintings. Yep, in keeping with the sentient surprise of hair, a good way to probably be Britain’s next prime minister, you could rid yourself of despair by using operating more difficult.
Johnson’s views on mental fitness largely appear to be motivated with the aid of that well-known well-being guru, Winston Churchill. “It was with paintings that [Churchill] pitchforked off his depression,” BJ informs us in his column. “[A]nd what becomes true for Churchill is essentially proper for anybody: that to a huge volume we ‘derive our shallowness from what we do.’ It is often from our jobs … that we get that every one-vital experience of pride.”
This isn’t completely fake; many of us derive structure and purpose from paintings. Many folks are much like Churchill! However, positioning work as the remedy for mental health issues is thoughts-bogglingly reductive. “Pull yourself together” is what Johnson’s basically pronouncing. Buck up. Shake yourself out of it. But depression, of course, isn’t something you can truely shake off. It is not a horrific mood. It isn’t always a head cold. Losing yourself in work may assist you temporarily experience, but it isn’t precisely a method to mental fitness troubles.
It is also unhelpful, I assume, to perpetuate the concept that we have to “derive our vanity from what we do.” There is not anything wrong with being too unwell to paintings. There is nothing wrong with doing nothing. And maximum folks have internalized the poisonous notion that we should cost ourselves in line with our output. The pressure to continuously experience that we are effective, to paintings non prevent, is one reason so many of us experience continually burned out.
Conservatives think that work is the answer to the entirety as it permits them to position all responsibility, all blame, on people as an alternative to the device. Too negative to buy food? Just paintings tougher! What do you suggest you’re already operating hard? Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and paintings more difficult. Too depressed to get off the bed? Work harder. It’ll do you precisely!
Johnson’s column notes that 57% of operating days misplaced to unwell fitness inside the UK are “due to pressure, melancholy or anxiety.” This is alarming, he explains, due to the fact “as quickly as a person leaves their task, and forsakes that self-defining experience of cause, they are at risk of coming into a downward spiral of melancholy.” Johnson, Britain’s knight in scruffy armor, desires to prevent that downward spiral by incentivizing corporations to do more about their personnel’s intellectual fitness. If he receives elected, he broadcasts, considered one of his priorities would be to offer preferential tax treatment to agencies that supply their employees “thcounselingng and the assist they want to do their jobs.”
While no one can argue with the reality that corporations need to look after their employees, Johnson’s coverage proposal needs to activate alarm bells. Access to intellectual fitness care shouldn’t depend on your company or your employment reputation; it has to be available to everyone. What Johnson is offering sounds scarily like a step closer to an American-fashion gadget, in which employers are largely liable for healthcare, no longer the authorities. It sounds scarily like a step toward privatizing the NHS. So let us neglect company tax breaks, please. I have no other notion that we will enhance Britain’s intellectual health: now not working. Specifically, Boris Johnson no longer working in politics and by no means ever operating as a high minister.
• Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist and logo strategist based totally in New York