MENTAL HEALTH - KILLING THE STIGMA

Updated: Aug 29


All of us are aware of various physical problems and illnesses that affect our health. A few symptoms are enough to make us worried sick of our physical well-being. We rush to find answers on the internet, self diagnose, visit the doctor, take antibiotics and all possible precautionary measures to rest only after the entire ‘health threat’ has been resolved.


We often forget that our mind, the most vital part of our body, needs to be taken care of as well. It is the organ that runs the entire show but is yet neglected the most. Many of us aren’t aware about mental problems, but most fear it. We have preconceived notions about not being mentally fit, which are only associated with being admitted to a mental hospital. In our society, it is such a big taboo that seeing a therapist is often viewed as a threat - “there must be something seriously wrong with him that he needs to see a therapist!”.


People who suffer from various kinds of mental illnesses are afraid to voice their thoughts and do not wish to take professional help. If they do speak up, they face harsh comments and rude remarks. All they get to hear is: ‘Get over it’, ‘Don’t make a big deal out of it’ and ‘People have more difficult problems’. Society just doesn’t seem to understand.


What we, as a society, need to realize is that having a problem inside our minds is just as normal as any other physical illness. The recovery rate of patients suffering from mental problems is much higher than that of people suffering from physical ailments and diseases. If we know someone suffering from a mental condition, we should be understanding about their situation instead of shunning them in public.

I often feel that no problem is too big to handle; neither is any too small. The person who is going through a problem knows how it is affecting them.


All we should do is:

Accept them. Acceptance will help enrich a sense of belonging during their times of struggle and will accelerate their healing.

Encourage them to seek professional help.

Get to know them on a personal level, before making a judgment.

Use kind words. Let them know you’re there for them. Soothing words like ‘I am always there for you’, ‘Take your own time’, will help them in their journey towards a better tomorrow.


On the other hand, if you are on the receiving end, then know that having a mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, or something that you need to hide. Recovery is a process, it takes time and there are many resources out there that will help you cope with life better. The journey towards getting better is an unforgettable experience that will strengthen you in all aspects.


Tyrese Gibson once said “Grow through what you go through”. This quote has inspired me to learn from all the situations life has put me through. It makes me see the good side of all adversities I have to face. For me, these wise words are an essential mantra to live by during times of difficulties and to emerge victorious on the other side.


In the 21st century that we live in, it is about time we realize that having a mental illness is not a taboo, but a rising problem that needs to be approached with sensitivity and urgency. Ranked the 10th cause of death in 2005, self harm or suicide is now India’s eighth biggest killer. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has recorded a corresponding increase of 17.3% in suicides over the past two decades.


Keeping mum about these issues and out-casting those who are suffering, while bravely fighting them, will only increase these problems. The more aware we are and the more awareness we spread, the faster we kill this stigma. With an open outlook, we should make this world a place that is supportive, accepting and conducive for a person to grow in all aspects and lead a happy and healthy life, both physically and mentally.


Neha Bhide


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