What is mental health? How many of them are actually taking care of their mental health? Do we give enough attention to mental health as we do to physical health? We often come across these questions in our lives.
The importance of mental health is emerging as a core aspect in the present times but, unfortunately, is given less priority. It is not only under-recognised but also understudied and underfunded. Statistics show that one in every eight people, or 970 million people worldwide, suffer from mental health issues. This does not count the unadmitted or unrecognised percentage.
Stigmas Attached to Mental Health
There is no tangibility to pain and suffering when one talks about mental health. The spectrum of suffering is broad and more profound than any judgement that comes along. It has no race, age, religion, sex, status or looks. For example, I have seen many people who wanted to express their trauma seek care from their family and friends. However, they were told they were lying and dismissed by authority. When this happens, we think seeking social support is not safe. Thus internalising all the struggles will gradually lead to the baggage of mental health issues.
The causes of mental illness are not restricted to a few aspects but are diverse and have become difficult to narrow down because of stigmas, people’s reactions, and changes in the perceptions of their own selves. Similarly, it can feel scary and isolating when you leave your pain and emotions unspoken, trying to ignore how you are feeling or deal with them. Precisely this is where one should reach out for help. There are a few ways to do this; talking to a family member or a friend or to a person you trust, writing to yourself, exercising, using breathing techniques or meditation to ground yourself, trying to connect with nature etc.
How you wish to heal from traumas or mental illness is subjective. You can find your own ways to do so. However, realising the issue and working towards it, even if it demands a great deal of effort, creates a huge difference.
Recognising the Issue
Mental health still has less priority when compared to physical health. For example, when one faces any physical illness like fever or body pain, he/she approaches a medical practitioner. But are we doing the same when it comes to mental illness? The most disturbing thing in this regard is that there is less attention given to identifying mental illness. People often do not pay enough attention to their traumas. To effectively diagnose the issue, one must recognise the issue first.
Mental wellness is not particularly for people facing some mental illness, but every individual in this fast-paced world should work towards their holistic physical and mental health. Moreover, due to social media hype, only one side of the mental health issue, like anxiety, depression and related issues, is given much attention. But what about eating disorders or personality disorders? The list goes on. Hence, supporting and standing up for all types of mental health struggles is crucial.
Awareness About Mental Health
Each individual should take the initiative to understand what he/she is going through. Awareness about the issue at a personal level is essential to recognising and diagnosing personally. However, as a society that inhabits people going through some form of mental health issues, it is important to be aware and accommodative of everyone.
In an Indian household, we often see the taboo associated with mental health. This primarily occurs due to the lack of social understanding. The lack of awareness is more true in the case of rural India, which suffers from inadequate mental health care infrastructure and accessibility. The country lacks resources in the field, and most of the available resources are in major cities or highly urbanised states. The issue is critical in villages because of the high concentration of mental health specialists in urban areas. We need constructive public-private partnerships to provide better access to mental health disorders treatment for the rural population at a minimal cost.
The stigma surrounding mental illness in rural areas is exacerbated by the lack of healthcare workers and facilities. Villages, however, also offer chances to use community-based methods for treating mental illnesses. A bottom-up, grassroots strategy like this could be the solution to bringing local communities and healthcare professionals together and dispelling myths and biases about mental illness. In other words, a close-knit, family-like community adequately informed on mental health can better provide prevention, treatment, and well-being for its members.
In most of the non-western world, family members serve as the primary carers for people with mental problems. However, more than 90% of Indian patients who suffer from persistent mental illness reside with their families.
The family caregiver has a variety of responsibilities when looking after people with mental illnesses, including providing daily care, monitoring medicine, transporting the patient to the hospital, and taking care of the patient’s financial needs. They must also tolerate the patient’s behavioural abnormalities. As a result, the family caregiver has a heavy responsibility and undergoes extreme stress. The caregivers develop different coping mechanisms to manage the strain. The caregiving function is prone to suffer from an unhealthy coping method. As a result, it is crucial to attend to the demands of the family carers.
Family caregivers continue to be underappreciated and frequently ignored by mental health experts. It is unacceptable for mental health practitioners to disregard and take for granted this crucial support system. Most carers in family or friend circles take on the task without much knowledge about the illness. The expectations of the role are integrated into the typical household duties.
After recognising the issue, the next crucial step in the diagnosis process is the self/individual effort for the same. One must understand how they feel, why they feel in a certain way, and where the feeling stems from.
On the flip side, when you try to escape your feelings or are not used to sitting with them, you may bury them until they pile up, which may start working against your own mental peace and happiness. Thus, being present in the moment and feeling it all can help you learn about yourself, and gradually you can begin healing from any mental illness.
The internet’s ability to make mental healthcare more approachable and accessible is only one of its many advantages. People often feel more at ease discussing their physical health with family members and close friends, but they may not be as forthcoming when discussing long-standing concerns about their mental health.
Online mental healthcare platforms are ecosystems that give us access to an economical, time-effective, and convenient type of effective therapy. It also serves as a facilitator for expert assistance that may be accessed from a computer or smartphone nearly anytime without being restricted by time or place. It is anticipated that more people in need will soon regularly use it as our lives become more digital.
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About the Author
Navya has a keen interest in geopolitics, pursuing her master’s degree in International Relations from Pondicherry University; she has a penchant for research and looks forward to exploring domains like foreign policy, diplomacy, and national security, public policy, governance and climate change. She likes to engage in public discourses actively and is keen on collaborating with individuals and institutions of novel and diverse ideas. Navya believes in the ability of academic research to empower public opinion.