World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 every year with the overall objective of raising awareness around mental health issues around the world, and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. But, why is only one day attributed to this cause?
In India, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the burden of mental health problems is of the tune of 2,443 DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) per 100,000 population, and the age-adjusted suicide rate per 100,000 population is 21.1. It is estimated that, in India, the economic loss, due to mental health conditions, between 2012-2030, is 1.03 trillions of 2010 dollars.
The objective and purpose to have a conversation around emotions and mental health is to remove the stigma attached to it and normalize the conversations around it. We spend most of our time at our homes, workplaces, schools, colleges and it is certain that emotions and well-being are impacted.
The need of the hour is to normalize conversations around mental health and make it a part of our daily affairs. It is unfortunate that people still find it difficult to express their emotions freely, due to the fear of social stigma. Why it is necessary to bring up this conversation is because every human being has a struggle/story that they are dealing with and if one initiates dialogue around emotions, it becomes easier for so many people to accept themselves and their emotions as something normal and valid.
A healthy mindset can improve work culture and performance. When there is a dialogue around emotions, people are going to feel at ease with their emotions and be more accepting and compassionate towards each other and themselves. Given the current situation of the pandemic, where there are so much uncertainty and distress, it is all the more important to initiate a dialogue around emotions and sensitize people. No emotion is good or bad.
One should accept every emotion as it enters our being. Just like how the Sufi saint, Rumi suggested, every emotion is a visitor and one should not resist any of them. We go through so many emotions daily, and at times, are unable to understand or rather not find a space to talk about them. This is because unfortunately, it is still considered to be a taboo and not taken seriously by society.
Determinants of mental health and mental disorders include not only individual attributes such as the ability to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as national policies, social protection, living standards, working conditions, and community social supports. Poverty and low education levels are the keys amongst these factors. Specific psychological and personality factors also contribute to vulnerability. Genetic factors also play some role.
Several policy reforms have been made in the past decade that make the environment extremely conductive for transforming mental health care in India. The right to mental health care in the new Mental Healthcare Act, the vision in the National Mental Health Policy, and the inclusion of mental health services in the guidelines of the Health and Wellness Centers (part of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana or the National Health Protection Scheme) provide legal and operational foundations for the scaling-up of evidence-based services for mental disorders to improve the health of people living with these conditions.
The state-level estimates of the mental disorder burden by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative Mental Disorders Collaborators provide a strong impetus for each of the states to increase budgetary allocations for mental health programmes, build the necessary human resource capacity, strengthen information systems, and streamline the supply of essential psychotropics to integrate mental health services in their respective public health systems. The time has come to translate vision into practice and transform mental health-care services.
The Mental Health Care Act, 2017 has defined mental illnesses as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.
A study conducted by Live Love Laugh Foundation in 2018 concluded that 87% of the respondents showed awareness, out of which 71% of them used the word ‘stigma’ or associated terms with mental illnesses. If each one of us takes the initiative to initiate a dialogue around emotions and mental well being, a huge difference can be created in the society.
This post was originally published here.