It might be an unpopular opinion. But when we start to behave the way we portray ourselves on the social media, a lot of things in the society would change for the better. Sharing a meme/picture/video on mental health today because it’s the hype and going back to being ignorant about it only shows one’s need for social validation and hypocrisy. Take a few minutes of your time and understand what mental illness is and how you can help. That will make a real difference in the society because, you are the society.

How many of you think that it is highly insensitive to mock someone who stammers or has any other sort of speech impediment? What happens if I taunt a person who is suffering from polio about his running abilities? Will you think of me as a witty person? Absolutely not! You sympathize with him and do whatever you can to lessen his difficulties. But, if the same person is suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, popularly known as OCD, and I make fun of him, it’s hilarious. “Look at that freak always walking in a straight line, not being okay with odd numbers”etc,etc. Why the differential treatment with mental and physical health? I do not understand why people speak in hushed tones while speaking about mental disorders. The stigma thatwe’ve created around it is downright idiotic. Not only does it aggravate the problems of the already troubled individual, but also makes him create a secrecy around it, which can turn fatal.

Let’s start by understanding what mental illness is. Commonly thought of conditions like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders and also intellectual disturbances like autism, dyslexia, ADHD, addictions to alcohol and drugs, all of these conditions affect the same areas of the brain and fall in the purview of mental illness. We should understand that just like any other disease, mental disorders should also be considered normal. There is nothing wrong if one is dealing with mental health issues. Infact, the amountof work and stress we put our mind through, it is more likely that our mind misbehaves.

Now stigma literally means dishonor or disgrace. To understand how insidious mental illness can be, let’s do a little thought exercise. Imagine you were invited by your boss to a high profile meeting with a client and you were picked to give a presentation. But on the day of the event, you got sick and youhad to cancel. When you call to cancel, would you prefer to say that you couldn’t come because you had a kidney stone or that you were depressed and suicidal? Would you rather explain that you were having a migraine headache, or having a panic attack? If you would prefer the former to the latter in each case, you my friends are affected by stigma. That brings up another question, “Yeah, so what? What’s the big deal if we’re stigmatized?”. Well, stigma creates a lack of understanding and awareness of what mental illness is, and reluctance or shame to admit it. A study shows that peoplesuffer from the symptoms of depression for up to 7 years before they get diagnosed and receive treatment. All the time risking the possibility of hurting themselves, disrupting their lives or becoming addicted to something. Let’s look at some of stats that were published by the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS):

  • Around 65% youth between the age group of 21-27 show early signs of depression.
  • Every sixth Indian needs mental help. The gender prevalence of these disorders is near similar. And due to the stigma associated with mental disorders, only 10% of the affected people receive evidence based treatment.
  • A report by the WHO suggests that India is the most depressed country in the world.

Appalling! Yet, what are we worried about? Religion, language, cricket? This requires immediate attention and we ought to make sure we do. We have to begin by recognizing mental illness for what it is. A medical condition that can be treated, like we do physical illness. If you saw someone who is grimacing in pain, choking or passing out, you would rush up to them or ask them if there is something wrong. But, we don’t do this when we see someone who is emotionally distressed. That’s where we need to start. We need to be involved, show our concern, make it our business! What’s the worst that could happen? They say “mind your own business?” or “I’m fine thank you”. But the best that could happen is you may be able to get somebody help and prevent them from potentially harming themselves. Just like we have a general health checkup, we should have a mental health check up done as well.

One major stigma that stems out of mental illness is the stigma around suicidal tendencies. Have you at some point in your lives heard some of these lines filled with prejudice and judgement surrounding suicide? “He deserved to die, Such a coward to end his life, Escapism!” I’m sure many have. It is important to realise that feeling suicidal is not the nature of the person but a mere state of mind. People feel suicidal because they feel nothing else will workout and their death will solve the problem. It’s a medical condition which requires immediate help. Counselors revealed that young people find it difficult to cope with failure in examinations and careers and neither families nor other social institutions offer adequate support or solace. These deaths result from poor relationships with parents, excessive expectations, the feelingof being unwanted, poor understanding of their peer/romantic relationships. These result in an impulsive decision or a long thought-out deliberate suicide. Professional help is difficult to find because India endures an 87% shortage of mental-health professionals. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2015 quoted that a student commits suicide every hour in India and also suicide as the third largest cause of death in 15-35 year olds. These are staggering figures!

Our education system is a sorry state of affairs. We are not taught about the ways of seeking professional help. Changes are happening though. As Gandhiji said, “We should be the change that we wish to see in the world”. If you know someone who is feeling suicidal or is emotionally distressed, tell them that you care for them. Being an active listener and being aware of signs of distress canhelp you to be there and make the person realise that you will help them and that they deserve to be helped. Being empathetic helps the person feel understood and heard.

Robert Kiyosaki once said, “If you want to win the lottery, you have to make enough money to buy a ticket.” And that money my friends, is nothing but your resolute will to keep coming back. You don’t fail until you stop recommitting! Fail, recommit, fail, recommit, fail and recommit. As long as you recommit, you’re a success! Please take a pledge that if anyone ever needs listening ears that are free of judgement and someone that they can confide in,your door will always be open. Stay healthy, stay fit and be kind to one another.

Written by Shrinidhi Mirji

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Dr. Dawn · February 28, 2020 at 9:47 pm

Thanks for raising awareness! It’s so important.

california medicals · March 4, 2020 at 6:53 am

Hi, your blog is very informative and helpful for people who have this disorder and also for people whose loved ones are suffering from it. We are a team of mental health professionals and have been sharing information related to mental health disorders and how to manage it. Kindly check our blog, too, which is related to the same disorder and share your valuable views and suggestions so that we can improve.

Thanking you.
Team CMB

Zoe Campos · September 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Thanks for telling me that feeling down and thinking of suicide is a medical condition that seeks immediate help from professionals. I got very nervous yesterday when my brother joked about ending his life followed by a weird laugh and thought that he needs help. I’ll try to look for centers that offer coaching services that may help in improving my brother’s mental health.

San Diego tms therapy · October 2, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Practicing meditation or breathing awareness every day can relieve chronic stress and realign your outlook in a more positive way. 

Meltblogs · October 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm

I like to help people when they are suffering from their personal issues, I like to be an ear without judging them. It actually gives immense pleasure.
Meltblogs recently posted…HOW TO MAINTAIN A GOOD RELATIONSHIP AT WORK?My Profile

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