Mental Health Awareness is important and it’s time to talk about it!
In India mental health awareness issues have affected more than the entire population of Japan. The 2015 and 2016 National Mental Health Survey showed that every sixth person in India needs mental health help. The problem has increased in India and there is only 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologist in India!
Dr. Neelesh Tiwari (Neuropsychiatrist and Chairman of World Brain Centre) shared his thoughts on this by saying:
“According to the NMHS survey, lower income group people suffer more from mental health problems and these are the people with least access to mental health treatment. Have you ever thought that the maid who works in your home, the sweeper who keeps your lane clean, and the rickshaw puller who takes you places may need mental health treatment support? Poverty, domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction and the very stigma of being underprivileged takes a toll on these people.”
There is indeed a stigma attached to mental health in many countries, similarly those who are victims of mental health often feel ashamed of coming forward.
Dr. P C Rai (Geriatric Health Expert of IVHSeniorCare) added her thoughts as well:
“Mental health problems affect all age groups. It is distressing that on one hand the children and youth of the country suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and performance issues and on the other, ~22% of elderly in India suffer from depression – a figure much higher than the global average of 4 to 16%. Studies have established that chances of death due to heart attack or stroke is higher in elderlies with depression.”
Dr. Neelesh Tiwari added on the key reasons resulting in the increase of mental health:
“With rising trend of nuclear families, children are growing up with both parents working, sometimes in different cities. Family counseling is an unheard of concept in India. While social media keeps people connected, it builds additional pressure to project only the best. Tolerance level of people is reducing which is evident with rising cases of road rage.”
“While, people brag about their medical conditions like heart disease, surgeries, ICU stays etc, they treat mental health problem like a guilty secret to be pushed under the carpet.”
“People do not know the difference between a mental health issues and awareness and madness. Our films and comedy shows have stereotyped mental health as something that is either dangerous or something to be ridiculed. The need is to talk about mental health – not just in conference halls, but in living rooms as well.”
Mental health treatment is still something being fought for in India. The ‘Mental Health Care Bill 2016’ made its rounds. It mandated for state government to make treatment affordable because it is too high for the common man.
Mental Health Care is far from meeting the needs of those suffering in India and is due to follow in the Western World.
Dr. P. C. Rai adds:
“India needs a strong and sustainable awareness drive around mental health supported by accessible and affordable mental health treatment solutions.”
“We need to explore options like district, city, state and national level programs which follow multiple approaches – online, on-ground and hybrid. We need to build and sustain safe and affordable spaces for rehabilitation of mental health patients like the recently inaugurated National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation.”
Today, India needs to open up and talk about mental health problems and awareness. We need to teach our young that having a mental health issue is normal and not taboo. We need people to identify mental health issue symptoms in their young ones, peers or elderly and act on it. India needs to advance in the way it approaches and accepts mental health issues as part of everyday life.