Stress,Lifestyle,The Social Stigma: Mental Health Of Urban India

Posted on August 29, 2012 in Health and Life

By Gauri Jagatap:

Depression drives two to end lives”. “Anxiety disorders soar over 12-fold in 30 years”. These are the types of headlines that make it to the news these days. This generation surely seems to be undergoing crisis. The issue in consideration here is the mental health of urban India. An estimated one million Indians are in need of mental health service today. About 7% of our population faces mental disorders. However a staggering 90% of these remain untreated.

In an increasingly competitive and fast paced world, people have a tendency to ignore their mental well-being. However, it is a well-known fact, that if the root to these ailments is narrowed down, one can very well deal and also do away with such problems. So what are the causes of mental disorders today?

Stress is the foremost contender. Be it academic, work-related or other personal problems, people have become increasingly prone to stress. Coupled with external, societal, parental and one’s own internal pressures, an average Indian leads a turbulent life. Of course, certain illnesses may be inherent. There might be childhood incidents that lead to them. As well, interactions with people at different levels do contribute to one’s mental state and thought process.

Mental disorders have been of late portrayed in an implicit fashion in cinema. Indian cinema has definitely been evolving. Through films one does hope that the society will become more and more accepting and considerate towards that section of the society. Films like Kartik Calling Kartik, U Me Aur Hum, Udaan, Woh Lamhe, among others have portrayed illness varying from schizophrenia to depression and anxiety. Then there are reality shows of course. Like the UTV Bindaas production Fear Less, aimed at helping young people get rid of their phobias which again, are a type of anxiety disorders.

While accepting the fact that one isn’t mentally stable is a task in itself, people directly or indirectly resort to several ways to deal with it. Of course, one gets to hear of the increasing rates of suicides in India. Alcoholism is another option people turn to. Many others seek complete alienation from the society.

People suffering from mental disorders have an increased risk of mortality which goes up to 1.6 times the normal rate. A recent study also shows that people with severe mental illnesses have a higher risk of developing cancer; about 2.6 times the risk a normal person has.

Owing to all this, India has joined hands with the World Health Organization (WHO), which recently announced a resolution on “Global Burden of Mental Disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response at the country level“.

Treatment for mental illnesses is definitely possible. However there is a huge social stigma attached to it which has prevented several people from seeking it. The mentally ill are considered as sociopaths and are often neglected. However, such people are the ones that require company the most. Friends, family and the society can be encouraging enough and help a fellow citizen by showing support. Unless of course, they’re scared the person they’re tending to is some sort of a Joker, the archenemy of Batman. Social prejudices need to be done away with. It’s time to change. It’s time to accept the reality.