Hush Hush Affair – India’s Secret Relationship with Mental Illness

Worth Living Ambassador Dr. Divya Madhusudhan (BPT, MPH)

Divya is the founder of Hear Your Mind. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Worcester,England. She has been a recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Award, England, and an ‘entrepreneurship for good’ fellowship, Berlin,Germany.  Having worked in an array of health sectors before and being a survivor of depression herself, she draws upon her wide professional and personal experience.

According to the World Health Organization (2015), 36% of the Indian population suffers from depression. For a country of 1.3 billion people, 36% is a huge number. Despite this high prevalence, mental health is something that the society conveniently ignores. The taboo around mental illnesses takes over everything.  People are hesitant to talk about it, people are hesitant to be seen anywhere around a psychiatric ward or more importantly even consider treatment options. Focus is more on drug therapy rather than counseling as patients find it easier to pop a tablet rather than attend counseling session and be seen around mental health service centers.  This results in partially treated mental illnesses. The pressure on patients is enormous. They often feel helpless and isolated ultimately leading to suicide.

In today’s volatile and fast paced life, stress levels are at an all-time at an all-time high. A student struggles to cope with anxiety during an exam. A woman on her pregnancy panics thinking about her future. A man suffers inferiority complex trying to impress his boss at work. A teenager is trying hard to combat peer pressure. There is stress all the time. How many will seek professional support  for such issues? “It’s okay, it will get better” “what’s the need?” “It’s no big deal” is the answer to everything. Not one of them would dare to walk into a mental health clinic and book a counseling session.

So how do we get over this taboo? How do we move beyond stigma? I would say education.  Inculcating importance of mental health at schools, workplace and family gatherings could have an enormous impact on acceptance of mental illnesses in the society.  Basic education such as recognizing the signs of mental illness, first aid options and peer support could be one of first step’s India can take to come out of its secret affair. The more people talk about it, the easier it is for the patient to express what exactly he is going through and seek appropriate support.

To reduce the stigma, we need to have the strength to talk about mental health. We know it matters – we just need to acknowledge its existence in our lives!

Please follow Divya at http://Hear Your Mind

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