Friday, December 6, 2019

Bursting The Stigma Around Mental Health

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“Mental disorder is not shameful, but the stigma is. Sadly, stigma aggravates the condition of people suffering from mental illness.”

With India being categorized as the ‘world’s most depressed country’ according to a recent research conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it becomes of immense importance for us as a community to address the issue of poor mental health in our country.

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Unfortunately, India for a long time has been recognized as a country where the topic of mental health has never really made it to the discussion table; and if at all discussed, has always brought with it a certain level of discomfort. Even though people have always known that there is some issue that needs to be addressed, sweeping it under the carpet has always seemed to be a more feasible option than visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist, perhaps!

Apart from social stigma, ‘self- stigma’ which is defined as the internalization of discrimination and prejudice by the person who is suffering from mental illness is what further intensifies the plight of the sufferers. The fear of ridicule, judgement and rejection is what according to the researchers restricts the sufferers from sharing their experiences and stories. People may try to listen for a while and offer support, but eventually they start to talk about the person’s attitude towards the problem. The thing is, the inability to “just get over it” is exactly the problem and this is what separates mental illness from normal, day-to-day stress.

Our brain is supposed to be able to filter our emotions and process thoughts rationally, but sometimes it doesn’t. It is precisely at this point that a person finds himself/herself crowded with feelings of anxiety, seclusion and in the worst case depression. It is a terrible cycle within which a sufferer finds himself/herself entrapped and the only way to break it is for both sufferers and supporters to recognize that “recovery is not about ‘getting rid’ of the problem. It is about seeing people beyond their problems- their abilities, possibilities, interests and dreams -and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning.”

In the last few years, owing to the large scale awareness campaigns being carried out both nationally and internationally, our society has grown to be more sensitive towards the cause of mental health.The global community has been trying to make the “abnormal” be seen as the normal; at least for mental health . Several NGOs haven taken mental well being to the forefront and publicly addressed issues like depression, growing suicide rates in the country etc. This has further proved to encourage the sufferers to break their silence, share their stories with the world fearlessly and embark upon the journey of self care and self love. Having said that, we must also recognize the fact that even today, a lot of people continue to be condemned for their mental conditions.

We have come a long way from not even considering mental illness as an issue which needs to be addressed to today talking openly about it ,but there is still a long way for us to go. Mental health is not something that should be celebrated just one day rather every single day of our lives.

Last but on the contrary, most importantly, learn to take extra care of yourself- physically, emotionally and mentally; and give all the love, care, time and space to yourself, for you deserve it.


Image Source – Teen Vogue

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