Editorial

Mental Health Is Real, Remove The Stigma, Let’s Talk

So, now when mental health is taking lives, and when social media is flooded with posts of reaching out and speaking to people, perhaps, now, we start taking things seriously. For any solution, we need to identify there is a problem and this is where, the society has to come together and take away the stigma attached with mental health.

And since we believe in numbers and bare stats, this is what the numbers have been screaming out for a long time. As per the National Crime Records Bureau over 300 Indians take their lives on a daily basis. According to the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16, 15% of Indians have some mental health issue and one in every 20 India is suffering or has suffered from depression.

Can we now have a serious discussion about it and stop pretending it is just another excuse to skip work, take a break or is simply one of those snobbish issues, because, frankly it is not.

“The stigma about mental health may have come down to some extent in the last few years, but there is still enough of negativity associated with psychiatry to stop people from seeking help,” Dr Bharat Shah from Lilavati Hospital, Bandra was as quoted by Times of India.

We need to understand that therapy is not just a fancy term, but it is a medical process, it allows patients to speak out, look at solutions and there are numbers and stats which show the suicide, which is often the last resort, has been avoided if people go through the entire course.

This has been another problem in India – the number of psychiatrists are quite less and hence, people when they look around for options do not find a viable option. Even when they do, they have already become recluse and quite often, they do not complete the entire procedure.

Also Read: Warning Signs Of Mental Health Risk 

It is okay to cry, it is okay to speak up and look for help

Be a man, take it on the chin and move on! Ahh, these words have been thrown towards us so many times. If a man is crying and showing emotions, he is simply being a ‘sissy’ and is not ‘man enough’. This is where the problem takes roots and this is what needs to be done away with.

The false façade of masculinity forces men to simply "suck it up" and guts it out even when they are alone and even when emotions become overpowering. This discourages them to speak out, reach out for help, for being alone is preferred than being scoffed at by colleagues.

Hence, who is surprised by the fact that more men have committed suicide as compared to women and more men have plummeted into hollow depts and substance abuse, alcoholism have become their fickle friends.

Life during COVID-19

This pandemic is now a part of our lives, we have been forced to stay locked up, stay alone avoid meeting people and watch everything collapse. And then there are commitments, bills to pay, expenses to take care of and no sense of security as far a jobs are concerned.

This has been a twisted year in more ways than one and this has been a year when amid all the Covid-19, India could finally muster up the strength to speak more openly about mental health.

As per a survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society, within a week of the start of the lockdown, the number of mental illness cases which were reported in India had risen by 20%.

For all the talk about being kind, people who are tested positive are being looked down upon, they are not spoken to, they are labelled different things by the society. How will they survive, they are in isolation – both mentally and physically. This has to end, and this has to end immediately.

Doctors have been warning that the toll on the mental health on young, impressionable minds will be far more than what COVID-19 will ever have.

The young people who are starting out and have been forced to stay indoors can only think about their aged parents, their family, their friends and yet, cannot meet them, cannot touch them – this is taking a toll. Urban Loneliness is an alien concept in India, but now, this has become so intrinsic to the way we are all living.

“I am here (Delhi), my parents are in Kolkata, they are old and in the age group which is most vulnerable to get the virus. I wake up at nights, get very jittery, the numbers are escalating, and I can really do nothing but stay here. There are times when I feel paranoid, there are times when I feel hopeless and during these times, my parents ask me to calm down. Ugly thoughts keep dawning upon me, everything seems twisted,” a friend told me.

I call her a friend because she was free to express whatever she had in her mind. Yes, I was not able to help her, but I gave her the assurance that things will be better. She had reached out to me and we spoke – this is the least we can do.

Reach out, identify people the true friends and well, be for them at all times. Mental health is an issue, it is serious, it kills people. Pick up the phone and talk to people, never let them think they are alone, these are testing times, a simple hello, a very poor joke, a rubbish recipe – almost anything can save a life!

Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide, we should never speculate, but the fact remains that he was 34, successful and yet alone. We saw the glitz, glamour, we never saw the sadness which had crept inside him.

And hence, talk, be the shoulder, be the ears, be a friend!