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Mental Health Still A Stigma Between Generations

Mental health issues are becoming common day by day and similarly complicated to get someone known about it

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"I am planning to get disowned from my family," said Mitali Dasgupta (23) as soon as I picked up her call. She seemed to sound frustrated and extremely upset. I asked the reason, and it was the same, her mental health condition which she shared with me last year. 

Mental health issues are becoming more common day by day and similarly complicated to get someone to know about it. Mitali is a post-graduation student pursuing her Fine Arts degree in Pune. We came to know each other as roommates in the hostel. As 2021, was still an era of lockdowns due to covid-19, bad mental health was obvious. She told me, that she has an issue with overthinking, and this anxiety doesn't let her sleep at night. She often used to sleep at morning three or four or sometimes six when I was sharing the room with her.

The overthinking disorder is when someone dwells or worries about the same topic constantly. People who overthink can be paralysed by their worries and may struggle to make opinions or take action. Overthinking can be caused by and can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The pandemic has brought a huge concern to the youth regarding their careers and employment.

Dr Ashish Ambasta, founder and CEO, HappyPlus Consulting said, "Overthinking can mostly lead to anxiety which is in the negative emotional domain. Excessive negativity doesn't allow happiness hormones to be secreted and the person doesn't experience happiness because of this. One needs to identify the root cause of the issues and the controllable and uncontrollable reasons attached to them. Deciding on what can be done allows you to take control of the situation. Slowly implementing these allows us to see the result and bring positivity. Building grit and resilience also makes us deal with it proactively."

Mithun Vijay Kumar, author and content management professional said, "All of us have entrapped ourselves at some point or the other in the unending spiral of "what-ifs" and "could-have-been". But, there's a considerable difference between thinking as much is necessary and overthinking. If you find your thought pattern to be consistently negative, you're likely dwelling on something that's not in your hands. There could be two reasons for it, either the event has already occurred and cannot be changed or else, or you're worried about the likelihood of an unlikely event occurring. In both cases, prepare your mind to let go of the negative thoughts and emotions."

The statistics say that one in every five people suffers from some kind of mental health illness. 50 per cent of mental health conditions begin by 14 years of age and 75 per cent of the conditions develop by age 24. The National Health Program by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says, 60 to 70 million people in the country suffer from common and severe mental disorders.

"Overthinking if left untreated can even lead to suicidal tendencies. In case you think you're unable to handle the negativity inside, do not hesitate to take up a counselling session. Always remember, your emotional well-being is as important as your physical well-being," said Kumar.

Well, it was a month ago when I received her call and she sound so vexed and disturbed. "This issue is getting worse with every day and is affecting my daily life. I don't even feel like talking to someone nowadays, nor do I feel like doing things that I enjoyed once, I feel quite lonely and left out," Mitali said. India as a society is mostly unwilling to accept anything unexpected. This sometimes makes it difficult for the younger generation to keep up the understanding with the older generation. I suggested that Mitali talk to her parents regarding her mental health and seek a therapist. She reverted that her parents have completely denied getting her mental therapy.

"But why?" I asked. She said, her parents don't think that mental health is even an issue that needs a doctor. Apart from that, if she goes to a psychiatrist or a psychologist, people in society may think of their daughter to be as insane. Also, it is a waste of money. "I feel like a burden asking for money to them for therapy," Mitali said.

Are People Really Aware Of Mental Health?

With this, the question arises that despite various mental health awareness programs across the country, are people really aware of it? Or what do they actually think about mental health conditions?

When asked about the same, Sai Srivastava (58), a local resident of Dhanbad said that he does not have a view on mental illness' existence. It's just a thought that one is mentally ill, if they think that they are okay, then all is perfect, he said.

Talking about insurance, when asked Anil Verma (42), who works as a LIC agent, that why there are insurance for physical health and not mental health, he said that no one even thinks of buying mental illness insurance, everyone is concerned about any accident that may cause harm to their life or property and they take insurance for that only.

Similarly, when contended on suicides, some people agreed that there might be some mental health conditions behind them, while some said that fear or grief is the main cause of people committing suicide.

Ankit Malhotra, Founder of heyy, a mental healthcare app says, "The number of people going through depression, stress and anxiety in India is about 100+ million. While it's difficult to say how many are aware of mental health conditions because all 130 million people aren't taking help at this stage. So, the awareness or acceptance to that extent is not really there. But on another aspect, the increasing searches and downloads on mental health assistance can be the indicators of growing awareness."

To Not Be Okay Is Not Okay?

Mental Illness stigma appears largely to be associated with age and generation gaps. Maybe it's due to a distant thought process, or maybe because mental illness is not as convincing as a physical illness to be taken that seriously.

In India, it has had a longstanding record of being looked down upon, avoided, trivialised, and broadly stigmatised. Acceptance is frequently replaced with religious rituals, denial, name-calling and victim condemning which causes only 7.3 per cent of 365 million youth even report mental problems.

Malhotra said, "Behaviour change is a slow process. In terms of awareness and acceptance regarding mental health, the older generation is far lesser accepting of the fact that mental health is actually a matter. Over a long period of time, generationally people are not brought up to accept the concept or how to access their own mental health. It requires awareness for the older generations to accept mental health."

While, events like covid 19 pandemic, extorted annihilation on the lives of numerous, it has also been an eye-opener to the loopholes regarding certain issues in our system, mental health being one of them.

How Could Awareness Be Spread?

Mental health awareness is the ongoing trouble to reduce the stigma by sharing our personal problems and mental health conditions. Awareness initiatives include school and workplace mental health programs, social support and community engagement, women empowerment, anti-discrimination programs, and other interventions that address the social determinants of mental health.

Malhotra suggests that one should start the awareness about mental health from their family. He said platforms life heyy try to break the barriers that come in the way of taking help and starting a conversation with the person. 18-25 years is the age group that needs more assistance, so platforms as such can collaborate with schools, colleges, and workplaces to spread awareness of mental health.

Nowadays, youngsters are open to speaking to each other about their mental health, this comfort should also be in between the generations too. This would need more acceptance and awareness to normalise mental health and treat its bad condition.

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