Sustainable development relies on the unity of social, economic, and environmental factors to create progress. However, it is not just community organization, but the behavior of individuals that determines the success of sustainability, “People who experience an abundance of love in their lives rarely seek solace in compulsive, exclusionary personal acquisition. In contrast, for the emotionally deprived no extreme of materialistic indulgence can ever be ‘enough’ and the material world becomes insufficient to sustain the demands placed upon it,” (Korten, p.273).
Since the social experience of individuals determines sustainable habits, it should go to say that a sustainable society would place considerable value upon people’s mental and emotional care. As awareness of mental health issues increase, they should be viewed more as public health concerns rather than private matters. The younger we address mental health the better, and improvement should especially be made in treating students in the Chicago Public School system.
Growing up as a CPS student, I saw this need for increased counseling programs first hand. There were many students dealing with matters of depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and beyond. Yet, it was almost impossible to talk to someone about it, our counseling department almost exclusively dealt with paperwork for courses and college admissions. If as many as one in five U.S. children has a mental disorder, there are a lot of CPS students having to deal with that burden on their own.
In order to alleviate this problem, more therapy and outreach programs need to be available in CPS schools. Even just hiring one person who can focus solely on talking to students could make a huge difference. The poor funding for CPS could pose a problem for creating new programs, but if more attention was given to students by the counselors already there, change could begin. Counseling the youth in schools today would help create more mentally healthy citizens of Chicago, determining the city’s social behavior, and ultimately its sustainable identity.