“Depression drives two to end lives”. “Anxiety disorders soar over 12-fold in 30 years”.
These are the types of headlines that make it to the news these days. This generation surely seems to be undergoing crisis. The issue in consideration here is the mental health of urban India. An estimated one million Indians are in need of mental health service today. About 7% of our population faces mental disorders. However a staggering 90% of these remain untreated
In an increasingly competitive and fast paced world, people have a tendency to ignore their mental well-being. However, it is a well-known fact, that if the root to these ailments is narrowed down, one can very well deal and also do away with such problems.
So what are the causes of mental disorders today?
Stress is the foremost contender. Be it academic, work-related or other personal problems, people have become increasingly prone to stress. Coupled with external, societal, parental and one’s own internal pressures, an average Indian leads a turbulent life. Of course, certain illnesses may be inherent. There might be childhood incidents that lead to them. As well, interactions with people at different levels do contribute to one’s mental state and thought process.
Mental Health as an issue is neglected in Urban India. According to a survey conducted by ICMR every 10th Indian suffers from psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia (mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behaviour and failure to understand reality). This is affected most by a high treatment gap due to the social stigma attached to mental illness, lack of awareness and resistance to treatment.
While accepting the fact that one isn’t mentally stable is a task in itself, people directly or indirectly resort to several ways to deal with it. Of course, one gets to hear of the increasing rates of suicides in India. Alcoholism is another option people turn to. Many others seek complete alienation from the society.
People suffering from mental disorders have an increased risk of mortality which goes up to 1.6 times the normal rate. A recent study also shows that people with severe mental illnesses have a higher risk of developing cancer; about 2.6 times the risk a normal person has.
Owing to all this, India has joined hands with the World Health Organization (WHO), which recently announced a resolution on “Global Burden of Mental Disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response at the country level“.
Treatment for mental illnesses is definitely possible. However there is a huge social stigma attached to it which has prevented several people from seeking it. The mentally ill are considered as sociopaths and are often neglected. However, such people are the ones that require company the most. Friends, family and the society can be encouraging enough and help a fellow citizen by showing support. Unless of course, they’re scared the person they’re tending to is some sort of a Joker, the archenemy of Batman. Social prejudices need to be done away with. It’s time to change. It’s time to accept the reality.
- By Muskan varma