I can't sleep well at night...
I don't enjoy interacting with friends and family...
I don't enjoy my hobbies anymore...
I feel lonely, sad and alone even among people...
I can hear voices of people talking to me... I talk back to them!!!!!!!
In society we come across many people echoing these phrases. It could be from our family members too. The general reply or suggestion given is that there is nothing wrong or unusual about it. Some are guided into age old beliefs and practises with no effective solution.
This sort of reaction in the society is mainly due to lack of awareness and sensitivity around mental health related problems and illness. People suffering from mental health issues are given improper labels and unacceptable terms are used on them. This unfairness is extended to their family members too. Thus begins the vicious cycle of shame, guilt and isolation.
It is therefore the need of the hour to empathise, spread awareness and sensitivity about mental health. In recent times, especially after Covid pandemic there has been a significant increase in mental health related issues.
We as a society need to make a collective effort to overcome the stigma around mental health and provide support to the ones in need:
1. Having unashamed conversation about mental health: talk about your emotions and feelings with family and friends. There is no need to bottle up the emotions. Talking is the 1st step towards accepting that there could be some problem and it can be solved.
2. Encourage to seek help: If you see anyone disturbed or behave differently than normal, encourage them to talk. However, when someone in need talks to you, listen to them attentively and encourage them to seek help. Give them all the support they might need as they are vulnerable at this stage. Reach out to your friends and family as much as you can.
3. Being Sensitive: another major hurdle one faces is being judged or ridiculed for seeking help. This becomes a major setback in delayed treatment. Empathies and have a sensitive approach towards people seeking help. This is a very important step that should be taken by the society.
4. Clearing the stigma and busting myths related to Mental Health: stigma and myths are the major obstacles that come in the way of correct treatment and timely help. Due to these obstacles the individual and his/her family do not take a forward step towards treatments but instead are caught in the vicious cycle of shame, guilt and isolation. Even to the extent of being responsible for the illness. It is therefore important to burst the myths circling around mental health and provide correct information from a reliable source.
Our little help can make a big difference in the life of others. So let us take a lead and lead them.
By: Dr. Divya Pal, Consultant- Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Kolkata.