Mental Health : Breaking The Taboo Raising The Hope
In our nation, people with severe mental illness often go to temples and priests but do not consult a professional. The utmost reason for India to lack in the field of mental health is the lack of awareness and sensitivity to the issue. To date in India, there is a big taboo for people suffering from any kind of mental health issue and they try to hide it. They don’t discuss it openly and feel low and a sense of personal guilt for suffering from the mental illness. If someone shares their suffering they are labelled and termed as “mentally weak”. The lack of acceptance towards people with mental illness is one of the topmost reasons that the person having mental health issues feels awkward sharing their problems. The fear of being judged and being labelled is constant.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged that India might become one of the depressed counties in the coming decades. India is one of the developing nations which has transformed itself beautifully but despite that when it comes to mental health there is still a battle to fight and win. It is high time that we grasp the gravity of the situation and understand that mental health needs to be one’s priority.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicides through depression are the second most common cause of death in Individuals aged between 15 to 29 years of age, the mental ailments can cause by several factors. It is time for us to normalise mental health and make therapy a little more accessible and affordable for all. Be kind, Be aware and Make aware! High time we get over these taboos. We should raise our voices against these taboos every day in every possible way we need to speak up.
Mental Health awareness campaigns have yielded positive results, some of the strategies undertaken to increase awareness and address the taboo around mental health concerns include active participation and support by family members, and friends, sensitivity towards the treatment and societal inclusion. With rising awareness, we can expect that early recognition of mental health difficulties and easy access to treatment.
Dispelling myths about mental health can help break the taboo and create a culture that motivates and encourages people to go and seek help for their improvement. Some of the common misconceptions imposed on mental health in the Indian Culture are as follows;
Myth - Mental Health Concerns are an indicator of weakness
Fact - It is not a condition people choose to have or not have, it can be developed by anyone, it requires a lot of strength to accept the illness and deal with it on a daily basis so the person who is going through all this should not be labelled as a “weak person”.
Myth - People suffering from mental disorders are controlled by Evil Spirits and can only be cured by some “tantrik” or “baba”.
Fact - Having a mental illness does not mean the person is being possessed or controlled by evil spirits. Mental Illness can distort one’s reality and skew their perception because of which the individual may behave abnormally but these distortions can be treated and cured by the help of mental health professional.
Recently the Times Of India reported that “Mental Illness can be cured in Telangana Village Temple if tied with iron chains around temple premises for 20 to 40 days”.
Myth - Everyone with mental illness is treated harshly in hospitals with electric shocks.
Fact - There is a lot of stigmas that electric shocks are given which are painful. It is known as Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Not everyone is given electro-convulsive therapy; there are alternative treatments for individuals seeking help.
Myth - Mental Illness only affects women.
Fact - Mental Illness can happen to anyone of any age group or gender without any biases.
Myth - People with Mental Disorders do not heal and if they go to a mental hospital they stay there forever.
Fact - People who suffer from mental health disorders do get better with the help of treatment. There are various therapies and medications that can help them to improve their mental health conditions.
Myth - Individuals who suffer from mental disorders are violent and aggressive.
Fact - It’s not true for all, there are only some particular disorders in which the person shows hostile and self-harming behaviour like psychosis, and depression.
Myth - Therapy is Useless!
Fact - Every mental health problem has different requirements to be taken care of. Medication is not the only way out and it doesn’t really work well on everyone. To get the outcome in mental health treatment one needs to opt for the combination of prescribed drugs and therapy.
Although we are living in the 21st century, it still feels so disgraceful that we still believe in the misconceptions existing about mental health. But we all can break these myths and taboos by spreading awareness about mental health in the general population.
- Talk Openly About Mental Health
Fight against the taboo by talking about what it is like to have Depression or Anxiety, even if it helps an individual it is worth telling.
- Educate yourself and others
Take every opportunity to educate people and share struggles and stories related to mental illness. Relate it to real-life scenarios and situations so that one can get a clear picture of the sufferings a person with mental illness deals with.
- Stop Labelling
Those who are suffering are already going through a lot and they gather the strength to speak up so do not use inappropriate words and don’t label them with some or the
other terms like “mental / pagal” which makes them embarrassed about themselves. Rather we need to motivate and encourage them to seek proper treatment for their well-being.
- Acknowledge the facts
We should be able to ignore the myths and misconceptions related to mental health and different disorders and instead acknowledge the prevalent facts and reality about it.
We should include people with mental health difficulties in various aspects and domains.
In Canada, it's against the law to exclude people with mental health problems. They have every right to take an equal part in society, they have the right to live an empowered life.
We need to encourage and support people suffering from mental health disorders to come out and talk about the same openly without any hesitation.
There are some famous celebrities who have made bold moves by talking about their mental health issues Bollywood & Tollywood actress Ileana D’ Cruz 2017 admitted that she was suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and depression, and television actress Nia Sharma in an interview opened about her eating disorder, the veteran actress Manisha Koirala in 2018 talked about how she battled with depression.
It is very much essential to understand and accept the fact that mental and physical illnesses are equivalent if one is not being judged or seen negatively for asking for professional help for pain in abdomen, then who are we to judge them if they seek help for depressive or insomnia symptoms?
It sounds like bravery, strength and persistence are the qualities we need to face mental illness and to fight the taboo. No matter how one contributes to the mental health movement one can make a difference by simply knowing that mental illness is not anyone's fault no matter what societal taboo says, one can make a difference by being and living taboo free toward mental health.
In order to deal with mental health issues, the Government of India has designed the Mental Health Act, 2017 with an aim to provide mental health care services for persons with mental illness. This act ensures that these people have the right to live a life with decency and not be discriminated against or harassed by societal taboos.