It’s #WorldMentalHealthDay and while we may be a long way from overcoming all the problems, we’ve certainly made a start when it comes to understanding and approaching mental well-being. There are multiple NGOs and social initiatives that have come forward to creating awareness and breaking the stigma around mental health. Many Bollywood celebrities have also come forward to speak about mental health including Swara Bhasker, Kriti Kharbanda and Daisy Shah.
Mental health is one of the most misunderstood and ignored aspects of life in India. We as a society are largely ignorant of the particulars and details of mental health conditions. A lot of people spend their entire lives being labelled just ‘paagal’ with their symptoms never even being recognised. We need awareness drives and advocacy efforts to make ourselves aware and empathetic and to understand that mental health issues are not just phases but medical conditions that require recognised and treatment and care.
I think the awareness we need to try and create first of all is to get people to accept the fact that treating your mental health is like treating any part of the body. Unfortunately, when something happens to us physically. If you get a heart attack or even if you bruise your knee, going to the doctor is not considered a taboo then because it is something you can see but what we forget is that our brain is very important for our well being even for us to survive and do our day to day things and if your mental health is not alright you cannot put in a 100%effort into a physical activity either because your body does not allow you to do that. Never gone on record and said this but I have been through this myself, when I did go through my phase of depression and anxiety, I was really apprehensive and I did not know how to tell my parents that because I knew that it is something they probably wont understand. Intially it was hard for them to accept that I have been through something and I need to find a solution to my problem. You know sometimes parents get very emotional and theyre like kya hum tumhare liye kam pad gaye? Tum humse baat karo, humare saath share karo, But what we don’t realize what therapy does is it allows you to look at yourself in a different perspective . words that you want to speak and not sit and think, should I say this or should I not?Can I use an abusive word?When you have a 3rd person perspective it makes it a lot eeasier it is like having a conversation with yourself. Many times I sit in my balcony and talk to myself. There was a time I used to wonder my neighbours are looking Ki main apne aap se baat kar rahi hoon. And what if they react ‘yeh pagal ho gaye hai’. There was a point I used to put on headphones and start pretending to have a conversation with someone so people wouldn’t judge me and that’s when I realized that is a bigger problem because more than our parent or society accepting us I think we need yo accept ourselves that if you have an isse or youre dealing with depression or your dealing with anxiety it is okay to talk about it, it is okay to do everything for yourself that you think you deserve and not what people are thinking. I know its easier said than done, I was the person on the other side at one point and today im fortunately on the other side of the fence where I understand depression and anxiety and I do recommend this to even my friends. I recommend therapy, getting help, or psychological help or any kind of help. You go to a psychologist, you go to a psychiatrist, they’re able to help you and I think that is something we really need to work upon. Its time we start looking at that like its normal, its okay to want help and its okay to be depressed. What’s not okay is not dealing with it not being supportive of the people around you of the people dealing with it. You know a lot of people might call it drama, a lot of people may call it, “you’re calling for attention”. A lot of people will call it a lot of things and I know that because I’ve been through it but today I also know that at the end of the day I’m the only person for me and if I’m happy the rest of the world is good around me and I am unhappy it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the world is around me. I think that’s something we really need to pay heed to and encourage not just parents but also teachers, faculty, schools, colleges to make it and include therapy. It’s like giving someone a sex education but mental awareness and it is the biggest favour we can do to the generations to come.
I wish I had it earlier in my life as it took me very long to release I had a problem and it was difficult and it was a very painful journey. I’ve had my days of not wanting to get out of bed and not wanting to live at all. When I say not live at all, I just didn’t understand the purpose of being and how you make a difference to people’s lives. It wasn’t a good feeling that way. It’s okay to want help and want to ask for it and it’s okay to choose yourself. I think that’s very very important.
We use the words mental, psycho, mad so loosely that we completely undermine mental health. Most of us don’t even realise that #mentalillness is a serious problem. We just joke saying it’s just a phase or it will pass. So many people suffer from depression in the world. Do we recognise them? Do we know who they are? Most of the time the answer is NO. Instead of easily passing judgements on people we should rather look out, keep an eye, listen if someone wants to cry their heart out.
It is great to see so many influential voices come forward and talk about it. The only way we can beat mental illness and work towards the mental well-being of every individual and the society at large is only by being there for those in need.
Us as a generation have talent, passion and the drive to make a change happen, it’s time we become the change as well, no?