Mental health is a fundamental part of health and is intricately bonded with physical health. It is vital for an individual’s well-being and effective functioning. However, in today’s India mental health is something that is looked over; considering the mental disorder a person’s weakness and not an illness. According to India’s National Health Survey (latest-2015-17) approximately 15 crores people need mental health care and 80% of them haven’t received any help.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness is a pattern in a person’s behaviour and psychic that causes distress and diminishes efficiency in persons functioning, disability in proper functioning, increased risk of death, loss of self-sufficiency. Mental disorders can be dependent on many factors such as the individual, social environment and the disorder itself.
The disorders vary for a different period; some are short while, others can be long term.
Mental illness is also varied by its course like some individuals recover without requiring any kind of medication while many require support and substantial needs to recover.
Mental disorders are various like depression, anxiety, autism, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dementia also eating disorders.
Mental illness in India:
Mental health is outlooked as something whimsical in India, where the suicide rate is 10.4 per 1 lakh (the leading cause of death among the age 15-29) whereas the worlds suicide rate is11.6 which illuminates the fact that suicidal tendencies are associated with untreated/undiagnosed depression, PTSD, anxiety, schizophrenia and many more mental illnesses.
India is labelled as the most depressed country in the world by the WHO (World Health Organization). Moreover, between 1990-2017 one in every seven is suffering from mental illness or disorder.
According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health in 205-2016, 13% of teenagers between ages 13-17 have experienced problems in mental health (including anxiety, depression also substance abuse). It is noticed that mental challenges are influenced by stress, parental expectation, peer pressure, academic achievements, and societal desire.
In 2017, the Indian government replaced the Mental Health act 1987 with the Mental health Care act. This act brought a lot of positive changes like suicide attempts stopped being a punishable offence and safeguarded people with mental illness by treating them with dignity instead of physically binding them. Also reduced the stigma imposed by society.
Mental illness is still a taboo:
People feel awkward sharing their problems because it still is viewed as mentally weak. The fear of judgment of people holds them back from sharing and also accepting themselves.
People carry the burden of their mental conditions without addressing them or any significant assessment.
With the pandemic heading into its third year the children and the youth of the country, confined inside the walls of the house with their routines and activities disrupted, need more support and care. Many educated people want to stay away from someone with mental illness; they believe that if they interact with them they will catch the illness, though they are educated. The wrong notions about mental health are something to be concerned about.
There is a lack of awareness about the symptoms of mental illness. Services for mental illness are lacking because of inadequate mental health care professionals.
Apart from the inadequate human resources for health care, the high expenditures for the facilities are a hardship for the majority of the middle-income population, leading them to render none or poor quality of care.
In India, children with mental disorders are undiagnosed and are hesitant to seek help. Approximately 80-90% of 5 crore children have not sought any medical help.
Conditions for improvement of mental health:
• Empathy towards individuals with mental illness should be increased. Like physical health, mental health should also be sympathized. People know all about physical health problems alike that awareness about mental health solutions should be increased.
• For a country like India and with its large population to be involved in its mental health, enhancing the awareness about mental health and educating them is the most effective way to surge forward.
• With a supportive and safe environment, positive peer relationships can help reduce the mental health disorder.
• Views regarding mental health should be changed along with better understanding. Talking about mental health should be normalized and seeking help should be supported. The what-will-people-say mentality should be over and done with.
• A bridge should be formed between the patients and the care they seek. A community health worker can do that by educating people and guiding them.
• Counsellors should be appointed in every school. Because that’s the age when the foundation for many psychological disorders are formed and can be treated at the initial stage.
• To improve the inadequate human resource of mental health care professionals more people should be trained and seek this profession.
• Treatment at the primary health care level should be done and at the foot of cost-effectiveness.
We should not be tough on people with a mental disorder, be considerate because it is painful for the people around them, but it’s harder and painful for the one fighting their mind. People with mental illness are not fighting other people, they're fighting themselves because the cause of the suffering is not other people but their minds.
The situation regarding dealing with mental issues have improved a lot, but we still have a long way to go.
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