Shh, hide it! I have mental health concerns

According to India’s latest National report, it is estimated that 150 million people across India are in the need of mental health care interventions, it can be both short term and long term. This highlights the need for mental health services in India. Although, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in India, per 100,000 population the mental health workforce includes psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07), and social workers (0.07). The statistics indicate there is a high need for mental health professionals in our country. The number of mental health concerns have increased all the more in COVID – 19 pandemic. In my recent research study conducted in the pandemic, shows that despite pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health across all the strata in the society, working on some modifiable mental health risk factors will help us to mitigate the mental health morbidity. So, one of the prominent risk factors that can be modified is lack of awareness, hence psychoeducation is the first step. – this article is one way of inculcating awareness.

 

Many people don’t have a clear understanding of mental health except mental health professionals. Most of the time mental health concerns are kept hidden, does health only include physical health? The answer is obviously “no” as the World Health Organization (WHO) explains that mental health is an integral part of health and is more than the absence of mental illnesses. Hiding your mental health concerns can have a profound effect on your quality of life. Some common aspect that affects your mental health is stress, mood swings, tension, hurt, excessive fear, excessive worry, etc. It gets intense over a period of time. 

In the present era, most people tend to say “I am so depressed” very casually although they are just being sad or upset for some time over some things. It is essential to understand depression is just not limited to sadness, anxiety is just not limited to worry, a phobia is just not limited to fear, and stress is just not limited to tension. The only way to bring change in the present scenario is to start talking about mental health, taking initiatives, and being a part of mental health advocating labour work. If someone has a heart issue, they will definitely visit a specialist and get the treatment it is that easy, but why is it not same for your brain (mind)? which is the central unit functioning, mental health concerns are also known as invisible pain that is much more serious matter. There is a lot of resistance that comes with the idea of meeting a psychologist or mental health professionals. Know this wellbeing include mind and body both.

 

It is so easy to jump to the conclusion if someone is not the same as they were or having behavioral issues, we simply say “he is crazy” “she is mad” and just get away from it, just because having this conclusion gives us comfort and certainty.  We don’t want to think, we don’t want to challenge our biased thought process, we don’t want to help and that is where the problem lies. We need to be supportive of people going through difficulties if not simply don’t pass judgment that is so not fair.

Most people assume that a psychologist reads your mind, which is not true, psychologists analyse, use their clinical judgement and use other set psychological measures for the treatment. It is seen that most people are unable to understand the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. They both work synergistically and yet are two different professions.

 

We commonly take a leave from our workplace stating any bodily concerns, most of the time it is may be viral fever as opposed to taking a leave for mental health concerns. However interestingly, in the year 2017, a woman in Michigan got leave for two days to focus on her mental health as she requested for the same.

 

It is vital to know that if all medical reports are normal but still the person feels physically unwell it is possibly an indication of “Somatoform Symptoms” which indicates that you need to seek help from mental health professionals, as there is an underlying emotional/mental health concern. 

 

Let’s acknowledge our mental health concerns and reach out for professional help. Also, if any person seems to be emotionally disturbed and show different behavior than usual, I would recommend you to follow these steps to provide some basic help:

 

  1. Ask if they would like to talk about it.
  2. Listen (actively).
  3. Empathize.
  4. Don’t Judge, don’t mix your personal beliefs.
  5. Provide them safe space to share their feelings
  6. Use affirmative language &
  7. Guide them to the professionals.

Be kind to people, you never know who is going though what, especially in this pandemic time. Know this increase in mental health concerns or illness is not individual’s problem ever there are several contributions to it, it is over all a systemic failure to not have easy availability of right help, unaffordability, stigma and lack of awareness. We all are part of this systems. Although, I am pleased to see people talking and taking initiatives towards mental health concerns more in this pandemic time.

When to ask for mental or emotional health support? – the answer is, the minute you got a thought about it.

You know it now, act on it – be a mental health advocate.

“Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced by “WE” illness becomes wellness” – Shannon L. Alder.

References:

  1. World Health Organization, Mental health in India. Click here for the reference link.
  2. Lessons from the first covid wave and strain – a study of psychiatric disorders in the pandemic – factors associated and preventive strategies Click here for the reference link.
  3. National Mental Health Survey of India (2015-16). Click here for the reference link.
  4. Haysom, S. (2017, July 11). Woman requests time off for mental health, boss sends the perfect reply. Click here for the reference link.

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