Let me first ask. How are You? It's not compulsory to say you are fine. In-fact it is absolutely fine to say that you are not. We are humans, not robots. It is humane indeed to be not fine all the time. And, what I think is, it is essential that we start to talk about it.
We seek for help in case of any sort of injury, when we break a bone. But, why don't we do the same when we are broken from inside, or our heart is broken. We take sick leaves to nurse our physical health, but why not for our mental health? Why is mental health a taboo? It kills nearly 800,000 people every year. Over 300 million people are suffering from depression worldwide, almost equal to the entire population of US., over 260 million people are living with anxiety, a little less than twice the population of Russia.
Mental health is a silent pandemic. It is killing us, but now the time has come to stop it. There is an urgent need to start a conversation, indeed what we can regard as a first step to tackle the underlying issues, and I am more than happy to start one. We scroll Instagram today, and see lives of people, especially celebrities to be perfect, as are their pictures. And why will not be, they are having personal make-up artists, personal chefs, even there is a person to take care of their nails. But is there someone to take care of their mental health? A number of celebrities have come out with their mental health issues in open, including Dwayne Johnson. We can say celebrities have started testing the waters, they have triggered conversations. For example- Meghan Markle brought awareness about mental health when she struggles during pregnancy. She go open with Orlando Health regarding getting suicidal thoughts. In-fact according to one research, if a celebrity chooses to disclose his/her problems with mental health, the people follow them, and number of people seeking mental health support goes up. It actually educates people, inspires people giving them the firm ground to open up on the matter. Such is the influence of celebrities, that people start to have fewer negative stereotypes against people suffering from any sort of mental disorders. Thus, this is the potential these celebrities have to bring about a positive change. I truly understand that mental health struggles are personal and so is the choice to disclose them, but I would urge celebrities to talk about their mental health, use their influence to inspire people to seek help, tell them that depression and anxiety is not a taboo.
We should realize, that we live highly stressful lives. There are deadlines at work, responsibilities at home, relationship issues, pressure to look perfect on social media, and many more such things which are bound to take a toll on our mental health. I believe there is nothing wrong in suffering from anxiety or depression, the problem begins when we hide it. Half of all the mental illness begins at the age of 14, and they go undetected and untreated. The result of which is worse, suicide, clinical depressions and more such conditions. So, now let's first understand what is mental health? It incorporates pour emotional health, our thought patterns, our mood. It dictates our decisions and our behavior. Just like Physical health, Mental health also depends on a number of factors-
- Our Genetics- Scientists believe that around 40% of depression cases can be linked to genetics.
- Our Hormones- There is a hormone called serotonin, which liberates a feel good chemical. It's role is to allow communication between brain neurons. Any imbalance in it, often leads to depression.
- Our Life experiences- Phycologists often say, that traumatic or abusive life experiences are often the cause of mental health issues, which is scientifically proven.
- Our Family History- If a person stays around another one, who often stay depressed, he/she is more susceptible to depression.
- Our Gender- Depression is found significantly higher in women (42%) when compared to men (29%), found in Swedish National Twin Study.
Now, let's talk about some of the early signs of mental health problems:
- Eating too much or too little
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Distancing yourself from people or your usual activities
- Feeling low on energy
- Unexplained pains and aches
- Feeling helpless or hopeless often
- Feeling on the edge all the time
- Extreme mood swings
Your daily chores may start feeling too toxic, like cooking food, dropping kids to school, going to office every day. But you know, there is nothing to be afraid of. All you need to do, is reach out, seek help. But all said easily, the journey to mental health is not that easy. There are three major hurdles according to me to access medical healthcare-
- At homes, depression is often taken as moodiness or introversion that can be treated over a dinner or a vacation. In China, more than 91% of people with mental health issues do not seek help.
- Lack of human resources; we do not have enough specialists in this field. In India for example, there are only 0.3 psychiatrist for 100,000 people. Desirable number being anything above 3.
- Expenses; mental healthcare today is a luxury. In India, an average session of counselling or therapy costs around 3000 rupees. In cities like New York it jumps to 250$ per hour. Imagine paying 18000 rupees for one session.
Mental wellness is a $ 121 billion market, but it also needs to heal people. It can no longer be a luxury, and you can help in making it accessible. You know how? By destigmatizing mental health. Healthy mind not only helps the individual or his/her family, but the entire society. Estimates from World Health Organization (WHO) show that mental health problems cause global economy nearly 1 trillion US$ every year, in terms of loss in productivity. Thus time has come when we should not judge an employee for taking a day off. At least 20% of Indian population suffers from mental health issues, and now let's start talking about it. Let's make mental healthcare accessible, and lets put an end to this silent pandemic.