Mexicans live in an “eternal schizophrenia.” For a while they are happy, then they fall into grief. It has to do with the political situation that has dragged on for decades, with working conditions, the lack of leisure. This is one of the readings that can be made of the survey published by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), the first on the perception of well-being among the population, with subjective data, that is, what one feels, where of the painting is situated, in the bright or in the shady. The state of mind that they declare exceeds only a few tenths of 5 out of 10. “It is low,” says the coordinator of Organizational Psychology at UNAM, Erika Villavicencio. But given the circumstances, it makes sense.
It is not about the pandemic, “that has only aggravated it.” The Doctor of Psychology goes back much further. “It can be said that Mexicans have three years of hope with the changes in government and three years of disappointment.” And so the decades go by. But it’s not just politics. It is one of the countries in the world where more hours are worked and fewer vacation days are taken. Where wages are low and hours are poorly structured, with their corresponding lack of productivity. “Finally, one comes home from work and goes back to work the next day, without many possibilities for leisure,” says Villavicencio, who shows a bleak emotional outlook.
But the Inegi survey also raises the other side of the coin. When asked, and a person 18 years of age or older in more than 34,000 homes, has been asked about life satisfaction, the data changes. There appears the social, cheerful, convivial Mexican, satisfied with his affective environment. An 8.45 out of 10. It is true that this average has to do with the 9.05 that is achieved in family life, in the freedom to decide, while the perception of security (6.5) or services Public (6.7) or the country itself (7.23) prevent reaching the outstanding for complete satisfaction.
It is not a contradiction. In these figures, the look is longer. They are not expressing what they feel at this moment, in the last week, as happened with the emotional balance. “Here you can talk about hope, again, that everything changes. That keeps us going because the outlook is terrible. They think that the football team wins, that everything improves. But it is never true and it falls again. After the pandemic, everyone thinks that after the confinement a new life would return, but it is not true, people have lost their jobs, inflation is very high, the intra-family conflicts are strong, there are many deaths of which they have not even been able to dismiss, being as it is a town of rituals. So the complaint comes back, ”says Villavicencio. “It is not a contradiction, these data are valid like the others, they are only complementary.”
The Depression. The bitter side appears again. The survey was carried out between June and July last and it was asked if in the last week they had had feelings associated with depression, lack of desire, the world is coming on, inability to finish what they started, or to even start it, and so on. And 15.4% declared that state of mind. 15% of the country depressed? It depends. If you look at women, things are even worse: almost 20%. This is influenced by the conditions that women endure in this country, abuse, long hours in front of the care of their dependents, the house, work. Julio Santaella, president of Inegi, and the collaborators who presented the survey this Tuesday, highlighted the enormous material that is offered to establish good public policies with a gender perspective based on this diagnosis. Women also declare that their freedom to decide is not great either, while they do. 42% of women say they dedicate themselves to care compared to 27% of their colleagues. And it is not a small thing in Mexico, where 43.9% of those consulted say they live with a person who has a chronic disease. All this is, for Santaella, “cause for concern” and for public occupation.
Whether having an animal in the home is a cause of more work or an outlet for well-being has not been asked, but figures have been put on what is perceived on the street. 70% of the homes give shelter to a pet, that is, 80 million animals in 25 million homes. Most dogs, then cats, then others.
“Mexico has a population with a desire to grow, to be well, an illusion that politics disappoints decade after decade and that hits us a lot. Nor do we have an education in the effort to achieve better goals, there is a lot of complaints about salaries, working hours, bosses, many children to take care of and without public policies to solve it. So we see a very kicked people and limited in their ideals ”, explains Villavicencio. He also believes that the Mexican people are “self-conscious”, subject to certain customs that cost them sacrifices simply to live up to what they think others expect, “capable of going into debt to have a good cell phone, good clothes, a good party of 15 years, or succumbing to the supposed sales of the Good End, which are actually deferred payments ”. “They want to be popular and accepted and that ends up undermining our emotional stability.”
To the own regret of seeing that no matter how hard one makes one does not change social status, to the apathy that this causes generation after generation, Villavicencio also accuses the individual of a certain cowardice. “We are not able to tackle the root of the problem, we do not make an effort, we complain because it is more comfortable, but we continue like this, waiting for it to be solved.” Why? Where does it come from? “It’s called secondary gain. There will always be a benefit with what you are doing, it is better not to lose it ”. Conformity and lack of self-criticism: “I complain but I keep jumping the traffic lights, or throwing garbage on the ground.” The people, he says, have many virtues, they are committed and noble, with their eyes on the future, people full of desires who move on little-thought emotional terrain ”. And the future seems never to come.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.