Mental illness is devastating lives! Do we really care?

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While people openly sympathise with those suffering from physical health disorders, the same sentiments are not extended to mental health experts. No wonder then that the discussion to talk about mental health issues has finally started, but it remains a taboo in our society. Individuals as well as families feel the pressure of keeping up the appearance of having a perfect life.
New research from YouGov states that women are more likely than men to seek professional help (76% vs 63%). Moreover, compared to all age groups, even Gen X is more likely to seek help (79%). Also while there is enough willingness to reach out to professionals for help in many circumstances, the research suggests that a stigma exists around mental illness in India. Almost half (47%) say that they would not feel comfortable talking about their mental health, if they were to struggle with it in the future. Similarly, two in five said they would not be comfortable in going to a mental health professional (43%), or talking to someone who has mental issues (40%) and more than a third (37%) would be embarrassed to deal with their own issues.
The data was collected online by YouGov Omnibus among around 1011 respondents in India in September 2019 using YouGov’s panel of over 6 million people worldwide.
Among the most common issues that people feel an expert should be reached out for primarily include suicidal thoughts (65%), self harm (54%), excessive worry or fear (52%), alcohol abuse and more.
The road to minimising and finally erasing this stigma will be a long one. The biggest struggle that most mental health workers find themselves facing is that of changing the mindset of people as well as communities.
Ask yourself – what happens when someone close to you tells you that he or she feels emotionally drained or excessively moody most of the time? The first reaction would be of telling him that he is overthinking and everything is fine. Some will even tell them to focus on better things in life and how it is just a passing phase. But little do we realise that in that process we negate the emotions the person is feeling, thereby sabotaging his eagerness to reach out for help.
“Apart from untreated depression and anxiety, untreated chronic stress also has serious consequences on physical health. It is important therefore for the medical community as well as awareness providers to adopt a more integrated approach to physical and mental health. We need to accord high priority to mental health by establishing intervention and screening mechanisms at different levels – schools, colleges, workplaces, and community levels. Corporate organizations must take into account the impact of job-related stress on the health of their employees and institute mechanisms to help them deal with it. They must equip their employees with stress management skills and invest in creating a work-life balanced environment,” adds Dr. Prakriti Poddar, Mental Health expert, Director Poddar Wellness Ltd and Managing Trustee of Poddar Foundation.

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