I don’t know much about how search algorithms work. But I’m fairly certain that when you and I both google “manage your mental health,” we will both get pages upon pages of results with tips and tricks for just such a task.

What we will not see is anything about the need for people in power to create a more equal, less stressful, less anxiety-inducing society.

The implication in the tips and tricks content, in general messaging today about mental health, is that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to figure out what works for us. The problem with this philosophy lies in the message that preventive mechanisms, interventions, and even full-fledged changes to the mental healthcare system exist only so that an individual can better handle her mental health.

This is a convenient excuse for policymakers to sidestep their obligations to shape societies that are in the interest of all people.

I have lived through this skewed view of my own mental health for nearly 20 years. After four hospital visits, countless therapy sessions, myriad medication changes, battles with insurance companies and uncomfortable conversations with employers, I now manage my mental health with a regimen that works for me. My journey toward a life where I am comfortable and thriving has largely come despite interactions with the health system, not because of them.

Notably, this regimen is now 100% outside of any system. I pay $115 US out of pocket every week for my virtual therapy session with a therapist whom I trust and have worked with for nearly seven years. I weaned myself off medication with guidance from a psychiatrist I also trusted, but against the recommendations of many other psychiatrists over the years. And I am very good at understanding and listening to myself to know my own triggers, vulnerabilities and limits – an invaluable skill honed through years of practice.

I am also extremely privileged. I was given multiple chances to recover and succeed – chances that many people are not given – and my family’s ability to pay out of pocket for private university education allowed me to circumvent the student loan crisis. At least until graduate school. But I did go to graduate school; I moved to Switzerland and found work; and a high Swiss salary allowed me to pay down graduate school debt and build my career. All while learning, growing, managing my mental health – a time period that included suicidal ideation and an episode of psychosis. I met my wife in Geneva and followed her to where we are now, in Oslo, Norway, because she was offered an unbelievable job opportunity here. It was not hard for me to find remote work, and I have European citizenship because of my family’s history. This allowed the transition to Norway to be relatively straightforward.

That privilege is unbelievably exceptional, and I fully reject any notion that I am where I am solely because of some trait called “resilience,” whether innate or learned.

The problem with resilience: it puts the onus to manage mental health on individuals, not societies.

To be sure, my journey is not finished and my vigilance remains, and some of the tools I can employ were mechanisms introduced and honed through formal CBT. Some medications I had been on and can still use when needed were quite literally lifesaving, helping me sleep when my mind raced or reigning me in from a state of complete disconnect from reality.

I am not advocating against formal interventions such as these. I recognize the importance of building skills to manage oneself in the world we live in. What I am saying is that the onus to learn to manage a person’s mental health should not fall solely on the shoulders of that person. For, if not for my own privilege, the mere chance to continue tweaking this regimen until it suited surely would have passed me by decades ago.

In many parts of the world, we have done so much good work to eliminate stigma of mental health. Particularly among young people these days, the subject is no longer taboo in much, though not all, of the world. But as Colette Shade wrote a couple months ago in The Nation, campaigns to fight stigma can miss the mark terribly: encouraging folks to reach out is great and may be well-intentioned, but what are folks to do when the system to which they “reach out” meets them with extended waiting times, prohibitive costs and clinicians who view them as problems to solve rather than people to care for?

Indeed, stigma fighting is a necessary but incomplete activity. More important to truly accept and manage mental health are the conditions that people encounter in their lives. Shade also penned a brilliant piece recently on why addressing mental health at the population level is a political question, not an individual one. She writes about a thriving society wherein people have basic needs such as access to food, water, healthcare and steady income covered, and wherein they can also engage in meaningful pursuits and relationships fueled by love and innate value.

This concept – that societies should be responsible for their citizens’ wellbeing – is not new. It is in fact a fundamental reason for the existence of government. But we have consistently created systems, over centuries, that guarantee privilege to some and poverty to most. The capitalism of today has widened that inequality, but the fact that where and to whom you are born dictates much of how your life may look is not new.

We now know, with greater certainty than ever, that there is a bidirectional relationship between mental health and poverty: a loss of income can lead to poverty and worse mental health; and worse mental health can lead to reduced employment and therefore poverty. The converse is also true: an increase in income can lead to better mental health, and people with better mental health are more easily employable. There is much still to learn about the effects of economic interventions on mental health over time, but the basic premise that people are more likely to experience depression and anxiety if they are poor than if they are not poor is inarguable.

Why are people in power – the same people leading the charge toward individual resilience in the face of an unfair world – not using their power to make the world fairer?

So why is much of the messaging focused on things like “tips for managing your mental health?” Why do so many tech solutions promise a flashy new way to track and improve your mental health? Why is the buzzword “resilience” (or its bastardized cousin, “resiliency”) showing up everywhere from workplace mental health initiatives to actual legislative programs? Why is the onus on individuals and not societies?

Why are people in power – the same people leading the charge toward individual resilience in the face of an unfair world – not using their power to make the world fairer?

To be clear, I am not arguing that individuals should eschew their inherent responsibility to look after themselves. It is incumbent upon all of us to explore who we are, what values we cherish, and how we can exist and behave in accordance with our creed. But this responsibility has not come about because of the current, anxiety-ridden climate we live in; rather, it is a blessing of being human that we can question and seek and grow. (It is a travesty that many people do not embrace this opportunity, but that is another story.)

To claim that people, workplaces, and communities need to “learn resilience” is to admit that there are conditions within people’s environments that require such a skill. Furthermore, there is an implicit message in the concept of resilience that there is “something bad out there” against which we must shield ourselves. I fear that, though well-intentioned, champions of resilience will actually create clusters of individuals who are more untrusting, more isolated, and lonelier than they are now. Society would be increasingly made up of factions for whom critical thinking and productive discussion would threaten the experience of being human, not enhance it.

Life requires handling adversity, but leaders have the power to influence how much and what types of adversity happen – or do not happen – as a result of our economic and cultural systems. I dream of a world in which are not the sole bearers of responsibility for figuring out a mental health regime that works for them. Not because we have solved for “how to teach resilience.” But because mere existence will not accompany as fraught an adversity as it does now.