Mental health? Still a taboo in the 21st century?

By: Taqdees & Chiara

Published On: February 03, 2021

We care about our health so much. What we should eat during the day, selecting the right fitness regime, consulting a doctor even when we have a slight cold. Is health just physical health? Both mental and physical health are equally important for an individual’s well being. In the current internet wave, everybody is talking about mental health and the importance of talking and expressing but is that all we need to know? Let’s discuss facts and statistics and pen down a few things that we as citizens should do to promote mental health.

Mental illness should be treated like any other physical illness

“Not everyone needs to be admitted to an asylum but that seems to be a general perception. I have often seen family members are not supportive and discourage the affected from getting help from experts,” says a Mumbai-based psychologist

A report by WHO ( world health organization) revealed that 7.5% of Indians are suffering from some kind of mental disorder. Mental illness is one-sixth of health-related disorders. India also accounts for 15% of the mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorders globally. Southern India is leading in this matter, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Telangana accounts for the highest mental health-related issues. Another serious issue related to mental disorders is suicide. According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), 1,34,516 suicides were reported in 2018, expected to increase yearly. Experts say suicide is an extreme manifestation of mental health issues.

It is not just the statistics that we should be worried about but the way we deal with it. In India, mental disorders are considered a stigma. Something which should be talked about openly is swept under the carpet leaving the person affected in a vulnerable position. The stigma revolving around the issue needs to be eradicated. The word ‘mad’ for someone who is mentally disturbed is found to be common. The current pandemic has changed everyone’s life. With unemployment, death news, and restriction, many individuals are under stress and depression. With covid-19 in the picture, maintaining physical health is important but so is taking care of mental health. If understood and talked about, mental illness can be treated and resolved with proper professional treatment.

Mental health treatments are long and are not resolved in one or two sessions. It can involve MRI, CT scan, regular doctor visits, medications, and counseling. An average cost of a session with a psychiatrist can cost around 12,000 INR. Apart from the regular counseling or therapy session that happens once or twice a week, medications might be necessary for a few patients. These medical requirements can take 75,000-80,000 INR from an individual’s pocket. For covering these high costs, the government has mandated mental illness coverage in health insurance but like covers for cancer, heart disease or diabetes are easily available, no special cover for mental health exists.

What Can We Do To Help

17-25% of adolescents suffer from depression and anxiety in India which has increased exponentially during the pandemic. Pallavi Khare is raising funds on ImpactGruru for WULU, an interactive chatbot that will be a safe place for children and teenagers to talk about their feelings, get professional help, understand harmful gender norms, and gain essential life skills to deal with challenges in life. Pallavi aims to impact 10000 students with her fundraiser, here are ways in which you can make a difference

Support the supporters 

There are many NGOs and charity organizations that support mental illness and create awareness about it. You can start a fundraiser to support such an organization. This will help raise funds and keep the good work going and at the same time will also create awareness about this ‘taboo’ that many have created.  

Raise awareness and the funds to support 

The process of fundraising raises funds by coming in contact with thousands of people virtually. This can be a great platform to raise funds for mental illness treatment and creating awareness for the same. The internet is flooding with online and offline workshops and appointments to ‘share’ and ‘talk’ to individuals who are not qualified. This is another setback that lack of awareness is creating. Get in touch with a psychiatrist to impart factual knowledge and awareness and also to fund session fees for people who are in need of it but are unable to avail it. Helping someone with their mental well being is as important as physical health, we are just not aware of it.

Encourage more communication in everyday life

Not just charity but everything begins at home, even a conversation about mental health. Create a healthy environment where family members can talk to each other about their feelings, problems and share happiness. If you are working, then create a healthy workplace where employees are given a healthy environment to work in. Analyze yourself and create awareness around you and don’t take a step back when you need to take a step towards therapy.

Host a workshop

Hosting a workshop with a doctor can be a great way to engage and connect with a larger audience. Also, having experts share advice builds authenticity and value. Having a professional on board will make it more likely for people to tune in and watch the show. Having a fundraiser ready and running when you conduct the workshop will only showcase how seriously this issue is being addressed. 

ImpactGuru stands for health for all and considers both physical and mental health to be equally important. Read, why people are choosing medical fundraising over medical loans and insurance.