By Dr Prabhjeet Singh Narula : Mental illness is still taboo in our society. But life can be transformed when you are able to talk to your near and dear ones.
When we talk about health we always consider discussing about the physical fitness like being muscular, developing stamina, preventing ourselves from diseases such as cold, fever, malaria, etc. but as soon as the name of mental health is brought upon we start hesitating and avoiding to talk about it and in some cases people even don’t consider it to be a matter of concern. Despite the mental health awareness days, mindfulness at work, school, college or home and stigma-bashing posters, many of us still feel that our society is yet not open to accommodating mental illness – and that is the harsh fact.
We are living in a generation where materialistic attraction has risen to its peak. Working for money has overcome working for the cause. And this fast paced race for money and success takes a toll on our mental well being. Mental Health is like “a taboo running across our society” and World Health Organisation (WHO) thinks that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disease on earth.
Mental health debate is like a pre-Enlightenment scream in its ignorance full of shame and monsters. The suicide rate in India itself is 17% of the world’s total suicides each year and this rate is increasing every year due to the negligence towards mental health. People believe mental health is a myth and something that does not even exist in reality. And those suffering from poor mental health are often labeled as ‘Psycho’, ‘Mental’ or ‘Unstable’ by society. This leads to people not seeking professional help and would rather suffer in solitude than let anyone know about it.
There has been a lot of campaigning, awareness-building, encouraging people to talk still there is a fear of not knowing what to do or say, even at the simplest of levels. Many celebrities have come forward sharing their struggles with mental illness which has done a great deal to chip away the stigma, ordinary people need to see that other ordinary people also have struggles with mental illnesses. It is high time people realize it’s significance and are able to speak freely about mental health. It is important for ordinary people to share their stories, as well. It may be easy for some people to believe that it is only the celebrities who become mentally ill.
When people share their stories or experiences, they help educate those who have been lucky enough to never have encountered a mental illness. It also helps to give others a better insight of some of the challenges of living with a mental illness. For example, many people may not know that depression can keep people from getting out of bed for days on end or cause others to lose/gain a massive amount of body weight. Hearing a real story may give a glimmer into the sense of what it feels like to lose all hope, become numb to all feelings, and believe that you have become a burden to others. Furthermore, it allows others to see that they are not alone. They are not the only one undergoing the struggles and challenges of a mental illness and hence sharing our stories becomes therapeutic for us.
(Dr Prabhjeet Singh Narula, Psy Signs – Psychological Health Clinic ,Director, Peacfulmind Foundation