Conversations around mental health have always been a taboo in our Indian society. It has been related to how a person might be possessed or simply is dysfunctional to be ever cured; thus not be able to work in an environment to sustain oneself. People in our country are struggling with varied psychological issues that have a direct impact on their overall well-being. There is a tremendous mental health crisis that has been brewing in our society ever since 2015. The problem is aggravated as people believe that mental health issues can be cured by visiting religious centres where God is the only source of direction and solution to cure such problems. Even today, such belief systems have a found place in people’s life which is quite far off from logic and rationality.
Rural areas perceive mental illness very differently. They consider mental illness equal, to be possessed by some evil soul under which individuals facing problems are many times handled quite harshly which leaves a long lasting impact on their mental health & well being. Many times patients whose families are totally unaware of their condition end up abandoning their family members considering them mentally unfit, which leaves a long lasting scar in the life of the suffering person. Lack of mental health awareness has many a time led people from backward areas to a wrong diagnosis which worsens the mental condition of the person, leaving him in a situation where they may have no door to knock.
There is a great need to create awareness about mental health in rural areas, as compared to the urban sector where acceptance and initiative for treatment has taken a positive turn over the years, where mental illness is not seen or considered a taboo to talk and discuss.
Cases of mental illness in urban areas are increasing as people face daily pressures in work and personal lives. Working hours that go beyond the schedule of 9-5, has left people with no time for themselves. Ambitions have over-taken the need for personal care, healthy diet, appropriate sleep and even family time has been compromised giving an open entry to multiple mental health related issues.
Addressing mental health is very important. Once we understand and open up about our struggles we would be in a position to see what awaits us. Living with stress is equal to letting a cancer slowly but steadily grow to eventually harm us one day. Opening up about one’s feeling, emotions, physical symptoms, or lifestyle can be a great start. This will bring focus on the prospects of managing one’s well being. It is like healing a wound which might initially seem quite painful, but with the right diagnosis can cure you to be your wholesome self again pretty soon. The more one explores, the better one feels about his/her mental health condition. Just accepting one’s problem, living with it and not taking corrective action is not a good idea.
One must be very careful, attentive and address any problem they might face. Some symptoms are:
- Confused thinking.
- Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows.
- Excessive fears, worries, and anxieties.
- Social withdrawal.
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- Strong feelings of anger.
- Strange thoughts (delusions)
It is imperative for a person to seek the help of a professional psychologist, and get the right treatment. People should be made more aware of what mental illness is, through campaigns and workshops.
The first step should be taken by schools to create awareness amongst children and adults of all age groups explaining that “it’s okay not to be okay” and that it’s absolutely normal for boys to cry and experience emotions like pain. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Dedicated counsellors and special educators should be hired in schools, to help people know about mental health issues. Workshops for teachers, parents, and students can be organised to understand how to deal with stress and day- to-day pressures of life. Talking to a therapist should be emphasized upon.
In the end, always remember that mental health issues are never something to be ashamed of. Only when awareness increases in society, will we be able help each other in times of stress and emotional instability because as the saying goes – a healthy mind is the greatest treasure to find.
At IILM University, our Psychology faculty members are trained psychologists and you are welcome to reach out to us for free counselling sessions. Please visit www.iilm.edu.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close