Truth be told, the linking of mental health and physical illnesses is underestimated for more reasons than one. Lack of understanding, fear of social isolation, and routine belittling of mental health conditions; mental health and the stigma associated with it is real.
Being aware might be great but on-point action is now essential. So, this World Mental Health Day, we decided to do our bit to help improve understanding of the issue.
As simple as it is, a person with mental health conditions needs equal attention and care as someone with physical ailments. It is known that negative societal responses are the prime most reason why mental illnesses face ignorance. It’s time we take up measures to reduce stigma and provide a dignified environment for patients to recover completely.
Talk more, fear less: Stereotyping and fear have led to seeing mental illnesses in a bad light. Let’s start making a difference by showing acceptance and talking more about how it can be dealt with. The more we talk and learn about mental health, the more capable will we be to provide support to those affected.
Respect and acceptance: Dr. Rupali Choudhary (Psychiatrist at Samyak Mental Healthcare and Deaddiction Centre) opines that one of the major barriers patients face is a lack of respect and acceptance. They live in constant fear that they will be socially isolated for being mentally ill. She strongly believes that as a society we can make a commendable difference if we start accepting people for who they are, as is.
Be considerate: Bipolar, OCD, depression, or even anxiety; casually associating these terms with someone who’s suffering can strip them of their confidence. A small but effective step would be being considerate and stop using these terms as adjectives to describe mental health conditions.
Acknowledge and encourage treatment: There shouldn’t be any self-doubt associated with visiting a therapist and psychiatrist. Only when we normalize these healthcare professions will we clear paths for an empowered life with the right to treatment for those who are in need of it. Dr. Ninad Baste (Consultant Psychiatrist at Mansa Clinic) says; “People who suffer from mental ailments often feel that seeking help is a sign of weakness. That’s not so! To acknowledge the fact that you need help and reach out proactively is being strong indeed.”
Speak up, speak out: Social media allows ample freedom and reach for voices that choose to be the difference. Consider expressing the need to detach stigma associated with mental health conditions on every platform where you can be heard and seen. The youth, after all, has the power and arsenal to turn the tide.
Battling in silence is so passé, this World Mental Health Day, lets pledge to be more compassionate, speak out against stigma and be more responsive towards those in need of a leaning shoulder to cope with mental storms within.