India’s Problem With Mental Health

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-Mayank Gurnani

You are not depressed. “How can you be sad? Just look what a wonderful life you have.” These are often the kind of replies that many Indians who speak up about their mental health, receive. Our society simply chooses to ignore one’s mental health, rather it stigmatizes the issue, making it impossible for people in need, to speak up and receive the help they deserve.

Mental health is an extremely integral part of a person’s overall wellbeing, by constantly creating an environment that associates mental health disorders as something to be ashamed off and by constantly suppressing the conversations revolving around mental health, we as a society are slowly digging a grave.

According to various reports, the Indian workforce is amongst the worlds most overworked ones and Indian students have some of the toughest schedules globally. In such a pressuring surrounding it is almost natural that over the course of time many individuals might feel a clutter in their thoughts and even feel the urge to discuss what they are going through, but choose not to. The only time several Indians even discuss the issue of metal health is, when either they themselves or someone they are associated with or know, has faced the brunt of bottling up these emotions.

Much of the inhibition that surrounds discussing mental health is contributed by the representation of the same in pop-culture. For decades both Hollywood and Bollywood movies have trivialized, stigmatized and even made a mockery of mental health by choosing to portray it in a manner that associates any ill mental health condition with being a lunatic.

After what can only be called a significant amount of time, people in the limelight have finally tried to build a more healthy discussion around mental health. Several actors have started opening up about their struggles with mental health and have contributed significantly to the de-stigmatization of this extremely pressing matter. Deepika Padukone, who launched her ‘Live Love Laugh’ Foundation almost two years ago, is a key figure in India’s fight towards normalizing the discussion over mental health and the issues that surround it. While there’s no denying that the conversation around mental health is gradually building up in our country, there still is a very long way to go.

The ignorant attitude of many towards those who are suffering from mental health issues, forces the latter lot to suppress whatever it is that they wanted to share and instead resort to harmful measures. The primary cause of a depression persisting for an individual is the lack of communication. The more we choose to just keep quiet and shut other up over this issue, the more are we responsible in contributing to the deterioration of a person’s mental well-being.

So the next time when someone opens up about his/her mental health to you, don’t just shut them up. Just hear them out, offer some advice if you can and even if you cannot, just be there for them. You have no idea, how important this could be for that individual. And if you are someone who feels that you are battling through mental health struggles yourself, just know that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious at times and it absolutely OK to feel low or depressed or whatever it is that you are feeling. These are human emotions that surface almost every mind that has thoughts. There is no need to feel as though you are alone or something is ‘wrong’ with you. It does get better, and there’s nothing shameful about seeking help when you feel like it.

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