Celebrities openly talking about mental health will have positive impact, say experts

P Srinivasan I [email protected],in

Celebrities talking about their mental health openly on social media will certainly have a positive impact on the society. Experts believe that this would make people speak about their mental problems, which is still a taboo.

Ira Khan, actor Aamir Khan’s daughter sharing a video on Instagram said, “I am depressed. I have been more than four years now. I have been to a doctor and I am clinically depressed. I am doing much better now.” Earlier, actor Deepika Padukone too had mentioned about her struggle with depression.

Although some people say that celebrities always want to be in the limelight so Ira Khan discussing her mental problem could be a publicity stunt, on the contrary the young generation takes Ira’s video on social media as a bold step. They believe that she has the guts to speak about her mental problem on a public platform, which will certainly help others to come forward and speak about it and consult the experts.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 90 million Indians or 7.5% of the country’s population suffer from some form of mental disorder. Mental illness constitute one-sixth of all health-related disorders and India accounted for nearly 15% of the global mental, neurological and substance abuse disorder burden.

The WHO without anticipating corona pandemic had earlier predicted that by 2020, roughly 20% of the population will suffer from mental illness. That means, today, more than 200 million Indians have mental illness, and the situation is likely to worsen.

Bhupesh Dixit, public health professional and mental health activist said, “It is really good that celebrities are speaking openly about their mental health on social media. It has increased awareness among the general public.” He said the young generation is revealing about mental health and if the same is done by the older generation then it would be good.

He said that still myths prevail among the general public about the mental disorder. Older generation used to take mental disorders very lightly and label such people as ‘mad’. There is a lot of stigma about mental health as people fear what would be the response of others. Such people face discrimination in the society. There is also a myth that mental disorders are a problem of the rich, but poverty and low education status are detrimental for mental health in general.

Dixit said that people with mental problems should ‘Speak Up’ and ‘Express Themselves’, as doctors/counselors/psychiatrists are there to help. He said, “Every 40 seconds somewhere in the world someone is died by the suicide.” He also mentioned that if people living in depression speak about it then it encourages other people who are undergoing through the same phase of life to come forward, speak and express themselves. Speaking about the problems also gives a big relief as it has helped to reduce your mental pressure.

The expert also said that the theme this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Move for Mental Health, Let’s Inevest’. The government must invest more percentage of GDP in Quality Mental Healthcare Services.

Dr Akhilesh Jain, head of psychiatry department with ESI Model Hospital in Jaipur said, “When celebrities speak it will definitely have a positive impact. Celebrities are role models for many people and if they (celebrities) can show their feelings on social media then the general public will also feel that they can also express their feelings.”

He said several mental issues have emerged following the corona pandemic affecting all segments of society. People have been experiencing symptoms such as fear, frustration, uncertainty, sense of insecurity, sense of boredom, mood swings, guilt, anxiety, disturbed sleep pattern, obsessive thoughts and even depression in some extreme cases.

Dr Jain said that the effective strategies to manage these issues must address more effective utilization of community services through the District Mental Health Programme, the use of video conferencing and telemedicine for consultation and availability of emergency care set up for patients in acute need.

Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma while inaugurating the country’s first Government Mental Health toll-free helpline ‘Man-Sanwad’ (1800-180-0018) on October 10 said, “The State Government during the corona period has been working to continuously strengthen the Mental Health Services.”

Dr Sharma said that the facility of free tele-counselling is being provided to mental health patients through this helpline. He said the Government is fully sensitive towards psychiatric patients. He said that the facility of counselling by mental health professionals and treatment if required is being provided at all the COVID centres being run across State during COVID-19.

The Health Minister said that the facility of mental health services is being provided through OPD, IPD in all the 33 districts and through camps in remote areas. He said that loneliness, employment crisis, fear, anxiety and mental stress have increased the rate of neuorpsychiatric during the period of corona, but the Government is providing relief to affected people by doing better work in the field of mental health.

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