A capitalistic impact on society

How this system is impacting our mental health

Sofia Morelos, Staff Writer

Capitalism is a system that is unfit and unnatural to us by nature. Humans are not greedy, self-interested, and competitive by nature, it’s the capitalistic system that forces people to be so. It favors personal material wealth over compassion and sympathy for others.

Such beliefs are accompanied by rationalizing the suffering of those impoverished by claiming that it’s their own fault, that marginalized people do not have the skill set to succeed in this competitive system. It’s an oppressive, discriminatory view that neglects historical context and ignores political factors of marginalization, so the wealthy can then justify their own privilege with a sense of entitlement.

Our lives are surrounded by multiple tasks per day as we are expected to be productive and squeeze in hobbies or exercise to be well-rounded, fail, feel guilty, and repeat that cycle all over again.

Not only is this our everyday format structured by capitalism affecting us, but also our health. Such as the food we eat, capitalism turns food—a life essential—into a commodity to be sold like any other commodity. For example, American food is too processed and fatty, but when you want to buy fresh produce and fruits they cost more. 

The air we breathe is polluted, about 1 in 4 people in the United States – more than 119 million residents – live with air pollution, according to a story published on April 19 on CNN. The market mechanisms under capitalism do not provide incentives for preserving the environment.

And the cities we live in are getting more expensive and unaffordable, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a non-profit organization, “there is no state or county where a renter working full-time at minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment.” 

Capitalism inherently places profit above human needs. 

And change requires tremendous effort to protest for better living conditions, healthier foods, and more affordable housing, but are met with resistance. 

Only those who have privilege can ascend above all these problems, which most Americans don’t have access to. We are not addressing the root of the problem and not coming up with the right solutions. 

Instead, those in power are redirecting the issue and ignoring the cries of protest from those who criticize and fight back against capitalism. They overwork us but claim we are lazy. They say we aren’t depressed, we’re just soft. We need to keep “grinding” and “hustling” to succeed. 

People aren’t working 16 hours a day or have three jobs because they want to, but because that’s how many people must live just to get by. They overwork themselves just to pay rent, food, loans and bills that are constantly rising. 

Capitalism breeds a culture that demands that you sacrifice yourself and revolve your life around working to succeed.

Of course, therapy, medication and yoga are helpful to so many people to promote change in one’s life, but when depression stems from the country we’re living in, there’s only so much therapy and medication can do to help.

Therapy doesn’t stop your work from exploiting you, taking medication doesn’t get you a livable wage. Self-help books aren’t going to fix the bigger systematic issue that is destroying us and our mental health. 

As much as we need to fight against systems that oppressed us and need to match that scale of injustice with our own justice, we also need to create community, stand together, feel empowered, to share our fears and troubles. When you have a community you care about, a community that takes care of you and fights with you, you feel empowered to fight to keep that community safe. 

We need to fight for community building and stronger social safety nets, and not blame poor living conditions and mental health on individuals.