Western civilization has, over its relatively recent past, undergone dramatic, unparalleled changes. The historical period in which these changes have occurred is commonly referred to as ‘modernity’, and although modernity has had profound repercussions on all aspects of people’s lives, what has received less attention in the nursing literature is how modernity has influenced, and continues to influence, the mental health of modern men and women. In an attempt to address this, the following paper, drawing on the work of Szasz, Nietzsche and Frankl, seeks to present an accessible introduction to one of the most salient features of modernity; namely, the erosion of those traditions that gave life a meaning or a purpose, and that provided people with ready answers to the problem of how they ought to live. The paper will then introduce some of the possible consequences of this on the mental health of modern men and women, as well as providing preliminary suggestions as to how mental health nursing might respond. In doing so, the paper also seeks to stimulate further discussion and research into how modernity has influenced, and continues to influence, the mental health of modern men and women, and how psychiatric and mental health nursing might respond.