Mental health: A question or a solution?


Sheetal ML Kashyap

We live in a time when people spend more time in front of their screens than being around their loved ones and in this age of advancing technology, no matter how far we’ve come economically, we still fail to or rather I should say afraid to speak out about certain things, including the growing epidemic of mental health issues.

In the bigger picture of the global burden of disease, it is time to give mental health a new priority. Even after excellence in almost every field, mental health is still considered a taboo subject in India. Somewhere in the midst of this vicious race to conform, we forgot to take care of ourselves and to check on our loved ones when they instantly shut up for being so cheerful and happy. Mental health is just as important as our physical health. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders are all real and loudly exist. They deteriorate mental health so much that the person eventually gives up life.

People don’t fake depression. They feign happiness. The other day I came across a news item in which a high school kid committed suicide because he was facing homophobia and ableism and being bullied at school. Farmers hanging themselves, college students turning to drugs because it’s the only way out they know, a rape victim ending their life, and many more incidents like this are enough to justify our really talking about mental health health must speak before it consumes us. Is it the fault of the person who dies? No! The fault lies in society and in us as individuals. Maybe the person came to talk to us and share things, but we avoided him or her because we were busy. Maybe we’ve always taught men not to cry and/or share and freeze feelings. Perhaps we pressured this child so much to pass the NEET UG/PG, IIT/JEE, UPSC or any other exam that it was easier for him to die than to confront his parents about not wanting to take a medical exam or engineering school or community service. There can be so many reasons. We all face psychological trauma in life. There is no harm or shame in talking about how you feel. Yes, there will be people who will judge you and try to bring you down, but we must survive. We all know someone around us who may have stopped interacting with the world, who may have recently experienced a traumatic incident, who may be too introverted to share what’s going on with him or her, who maybe has lost interest in his hobbies who may eat alone.

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Our society has created a social stigma when it comes to mental health. They refuse to accept that one can also be mentally ill. Mental health is not always related to dementia or schizophrenia. There are many other factors that are not recognized. Digestive disorders, stimulant dependence, changes in circadian rhythms, low academic or non-academic productivity, drastic increase or decrease in appetite, being overly critical, muscle aches, body aches, extreme highs and lows are some warning signs that indicate a person’s mental health is deteriorating . I know it takes every ounce of you to talk to people about these things. But here are a few things that may help a little.

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Develop a hobby. Try to distract yourself especially when this wave of negative thoughts hits your mind. A person cannot work or study 24/7. We all need a break. Try to fill your free time with singing, dancing, writing, playing games or whatever you like. Rest as much as possible. People with poor mental health can sometimes suffer from insomnia. Aim for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to stay fresh and focused at work throughout the day. Grab it. Of course, there are certain things that we can’t talk to everyone about. But you can always talk to someone you trust. That thing sure helps. You will feel light as if a baggage has been taken off your head and shoulders. Just let it all out. The person you share your thoughts with may not always be of great help, may not have solutions to your problems, but speaking your heart always makes you feel good. You only need one listener. You can even get a pet. Pets make great company.

There are few organizations in India dedicated to India’s better mental health. The Neptune Foundation, Mumbai was established amid the COVID 19 pandemic to reach out to the homeless with poor mental health. The Manas Foundation, Delhi works with communities to raise awareness of mental health. The Banyan, Chennai was established in the early 1990’s to care for homeless women and people with mental health issues. These were some technical things, some technical solutions. Apart from that, always express love, affection and care. Their mere words can make them feel good. It is a very sensitive subject and must therefore be approached with the utmost sensitivity.

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The least we can do for them is try not to judge, just listen when they let it out in front of you, be empathetic instead of compassionate, ask them if they’re okay or if they need something, tell them that Making them feel wanted and loved, tell them everything will be fine. And honestly, sometimes it’s okay not to be okay. Life is like an EKG chart. If there are no ups and downs, we won’t be alive. It’s okay to grow slowly. We all have different stages of growth. There are seven billion people in this world. We cannot all grow at the same pace. Few events happen in our lives to teach us anything. Screaming and crying and pouring out your heart is totally okay, it’s natural. But just don’t give up.

The world already has a lot of hate. So let’s just be nice to each other. If you don’t taste a bad apple, you don’t know what a good apple tastes like. The same applies to life. If there are no bad days, how are we going to enjoy our good days? Life is a process of learning, healing and growing. We’re all here for a while. So spread love, spread affection, spread good vibes. Life is short. It will be over before we even know. Be kind to strangers too, because kindness always comes back.



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