Mental Health is a topic much discussed in the current times owing to its increasing importance in the world. Since it was not considered as important as our physical health, mental health disorders, illnesses and issues had been ignored and pushed under the rug for many years. However, with depression and suicide becoming the greatest threat to human life in this modern world, addressing mental health with understanding and seeking solutions are extremely important. Emotional and mental well-being is necessary for an individual to function as he ought in society, complete his tasks and maintain his space in the world.
Modernity has brought with it a number of problems all of which have contributed in their own way to a crisis of mental health. Long hours at the office, increased stress levels, financial crisis, managing work life and home life are all significant factors that affect our mental health. Among students, demanding coursework, fear of the future, a crashing job market, worry about not performing well and peer pressure can all lead to a situation where one is not able to think and behave as one ought.
Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in the number of mental health issues coming up. There is fear of the virus, worry about what happens next, and many don’t see how they can survive. 1 in 5 college students say that they are experiencing heightened mental health issues during this pandemic. This will become a pandemic by itself and the countries of the world are already realizing this.
A major issue that we in India is what the World Health Organization considers the mental health gap. It refers to the gap between number of those with the need and the number of providers available. There are not enough responders who can adequately deal with the issues and the number of people who are in need of help.
Another major issue with addressing mental health concerns in India is the stigma associated with it. Many are told to ‘just get over it’ or asked to ‘forget about it’. The honour-shame culture in India lends itself to this. It is considered shameful to approach someone for help or to say that I am struggling mentally. It is not a choice to go into depression. There is rejection and discrimination against people who suffer from severe anxiety or other issues and they are not given the care they need. We need to understand that mental health is as important as physical health and that it needs to be dealt with as seriously.
If you or anyone you know seem to be struggling mentally, never hesitate to reach out for help. It is important that we ourselves do not try to treat anyone or counsel them if we are not qualified. Never wait for your mental health to deteriorate immensely before you start seeking help. Self medication and deluding oneself into thinking that they can conquer this on their own should also not be encouraged. If we see someone struggling with mental health, learn how to move towards them and assure them they are not alone. Don’t moralize them but listen to them and walk with them in their journey. You can do much by taking people seriously when they talk to you about their struggles and by being there for them.