Mental illness in India is still a taboo. The World Health Organization has declared India as one of the most depressed countries in the year 2018-19. India is a developing country that has transformed itself in plenty of ways but despite that, when it comes to mental health, there is a long way to go.
83% of people in India are suffering from mental health issues. Yet, some are unable to get mental help whereas the rest of them feel awkward in seeking help for their mental health.
Why do people emphasize on physical health only and tend to overlook our mental health? Isn’t it kind of weird? A person feels healthy when they are well not just physically but mentally as well. If you are physically fine but have a mental illness, you are hardly going to feel well for sure.
No matter how much people have fought, their minds are conditioned with a variety of stereotypes. For example, ‘Boys do not cry if they do so, people question their masculinity. Only girls should cry.‘
If someone shares that they are suffering through depression, they are termed as ‘mentally weak’. The lack of acceptance towards people with mental illness is one of the topmost reason that they feel awkward in sharing their problems. They fear that people would judge them, understand them as a weak person and could be teased by their peers. They feel unable and find it difficult to share their problems with anyone.
Can you believe in a country like India where a large number of people are battling through mental problems, there are less than 4,000 mental health professionals? According to an article published by the Times of India, there are three psychiatrists for every one lakh people. India needs more mental health professionals.
In my friend’s neighbourhood, a lady was diagnosed with depression after her husband’s death. She suffered through several anxiety attacks too, but instead of seeking help from a professional, their family took her to some Tantric baba. Her family believed that these things could cure her severe depression. However, with time, her condition got worse. Finally, when people advised her family to take her to a professional, they fortunately obliged. It is disappointing that in a developing country like India we resort to superstitions to deal with mental health.
This is a request, if you are suffering from any sort of mental illness, please share your thoughts, come forward and seek professional help. I know you might be terrified of people judging you but always remember you should be the most important person in your life and not be bothered by what others think of you. You should share your problems with your close ones, seek a psychiatrist. Mental health issues left unattended for a long time could get worse.
Treat mental health problems just as your physical problem and stop creating a taboo around mental illness. Stop being judgmental. Be empathetic about others’ health. You do not know how your one step might help!