“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour and more unashamed conversation” – Glenn Close
The attention that mental health requires is overdue. The need of the hour is to drop the veil of shame around mental health and its deterioration. Along with severe depression and anxiety, issues like overthinking, PTSD, OCD and eating disorders also require our attention.
Seeing light at the end of the tunnel
The awareness regarding mental health has significantly increased in the past few decades. The intervention of innovative, cost-effective ideas has made us all see light at the end of the tunnel. Availability of helpline numbers that work, psychological treatments and anti-depression drugs are the path-breakers.
Important mainstream policies of governmental and non-governmental organizations have also come into prominence recently. The mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) has produced evidence-based guidance for non-specialists to enable them to better identify and manage a range of priority mental health conditions.
Finding a solution within
Looking for solutions out there is almost never the answer. Within yourself is where you need to look, for there lies the solution to everything, including mental health problems. All we need to do is believe and encourage others to do the same.
Spreading awareness is a promising approach that can be taken to combat the mental health taboos that abound in society. A lot of people are literate, but not educated. Educating the masses about mental health problems and taboos will help society to become more acceptable, open-minded, understanding and less opinionated.
We need to learn how to unlearn the oppressive customs we have had and break the shackles of the past that won’t let us move forward.
For example, accepting the LGBTQ community is still a work in progress in India. The positive change, however, has not only made the lives of the third gender community more radiant and brimming with mental peace.
Another aspect to be acknowledged is that giving teens the right of making their own career choices is essential to ensure the protection of their mental health and escalate the country’s progress as people would truly start loving their jobs. A little freedom can do wonders if we think about it.
Lately, the world as one has been making strides towards mental health awareness and alleviation. The World Health Assembly, in 2013 approved a “Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020“. WHO’s Member States committed to take specific actions to improve mental health and attain a set of global targets.
The overall goal is to promote mental well-being, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery, promote human rights and reduce the mortality, morbidity and disability for persons with mental disorders. The 4 key objectives are:
- To strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health;
- To provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings;
- To implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health; and
- To strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.
Breaking the cycle
Mental health alleviation is an interwoven network of causes, early signs, effects, prevention and cure. It is a cycle that can only be broken by awareness. One of the most effective ways to diagnose mental health problems at an early is by looking out for these signs:
- Persistent sadness (more than two weeks)
- Avoiding social interactions
- Hurting oneself
- Drastic changes in mood
- Weight loss
- Frequent headaches/stomach ache
- Concentration difficulty
- Academic performance change
Looking out for these signs and taking appropriate preventive actions well in time can significantly improve the future of the affected individual. The same gravity is shared by awareness campaigns that de-stigmatize the taboo against mental illness.
Another aspect of this multifaceted social issue is to look into the various socio-economic causes that dreadfully affect the mental health of individuals.
A 2015 study of 903 families in Iran identified several socioeconomic causes of mental health conditions, such as poverty. Such financial and social strains can be majorly cured by the intervention of the government, to provide the required resources and funds. As individuals, being a part of community service to aid the poor can help to eradicate poverty at least to some extent.
Holding our hand
In this fast-paced life, we often look to and look out for others, forgetting ourselves in the process. Being compassionate to yourself is as important as being compassionate to others, if not more so. If you, as an individual, cannot take care of your mental health, you will not be of any help to others in their time of need. We need to learn to earn the wealth of mental health.
The skill of making oneself mentally strong is something that needs to be addressed at a young age. Adding these aspects of mental health as life skills to the school curriculum can drastically improve the happiness index among children and subsequently the adult population once they grow old. The need to express emotions should be encouraged as it is humane, healthy and positive.
Some ways we can help ourselves are:
- Journaling – write down your thoughts and emotions. Make your diary the BFF you can share any secret with.
- Solo travelling – consider it as your time for introspection and reflection.
- Empathy – try to connect to people you consider as empaths, those who listen without giving judgements and make you feel heard & understood.
Fabricating the Change
It’s time we make efforts to end the stigma and indifference that revolves around breakdowns. Mental illness doesn’t see social status, reputation, economic conditions before knocking on someone’s door. It can happen to the best of us.
While the problem seems insurmountable, it is not so. With the right awareness, determination, love and support, mental health issues can be nipped in the bud. Remember that asking for help is not a shame; it is the bravest thing anyone can do. So buckle up and gear up to fight – together let’s beat back mental health taboos out of sight!
Author: Mallika Singh Pathania
Editor: Ananya Manishi
Visual Content: Simar Punni
Mallika Singh Pathania
Mallika is a student at Shoolini University and she’s usually found drooling over antique book shops. Writing comes naturally to her and to pursue that further she decided to try her hand at blogging.