"Force yourself to come to college and sit in class, attend lectures and take deep breaths." Said my psychology teacher in college when I told her that I was suffering from mental health concerns. I needed rest because I had been a fighter of depression and other mental health illnesses for the past 2 years, back then. I explained to her how difficult it was for me to even get up from my bed and take a bath, how my panic and anxiety attacks had increased in both number and intensity. Her being a psychology teacher, I expected her to understand. But she didn’t. In the following days when she was teaching us about depression, her literal statement was that depression comes to the weak minded people.
My college wasn’t granting me attendance even though I submitted all the required medical certificates, reports and prescription of my medication from my psychologist and psychiatrist. I started approaching the vice principal as soon as the new academic year had started. My entire day would go waiting for her. The guards would tell me that she was in a ‘meeting’ but I could hear her and a couple of other teachers laughing and gossiping. As time passed, it would break my heart because even though I was suffering so much, the college wasn't serious about hearing me out, let alone considering my request. I was in contact with one of the vice principals and she helped me as much as she could, but couldn’t help me with the attendance bit. After literally months of waiting, I didn't get to meet the principal because one could visit him only if the vice principal allowed. And she literally told me that I shouldn't have joined this college if I was facing so many problems. Letters and photocopies of reports were sent to the authorities every other day but her response got harsher, day by day. I visited ALL the possible education authorities and all of them redirected me to visit someone else. My journey for seeking help that started in college went right to the HSC board office and then to the education department. The authorities then told me, “pallu pakad lo, tell her I am like your daughter. Butter her and be kind to the vice principal, she will help you out.” All this literally went for months. In spite of numerous requests and regular visits for consideration of my attendance problems from both, my parents and me, nobody listened. When my mother and I finally got to meet the vice principal, she asked me to change my college in October. My HSC boards were to commence from February and I was hopeless that any college would take me in so late and my college authorities didn’t seem to care about that at all.
Imagine this scenario on someone who was having attacks multiple times a day, who had board exams and entrances nearing. I had already tried to seek external help but nobody was aware of the term as common as depression. In the course of my journey for help, one of the people asked me, ”What is depression?” I was planning to sue the college for not granting me attendance even though I had submitted all the required documents and certificates and for dragging my entire situation for so long.
I talked to my therapist about the same and I realised that I did not have any mental resources left to fight a case against them. My therapist told me, “Your mental health is above everything.” I realised that as much as I wanted to fight for justice, I had to put my mental health first. I was a minor at that time and I didn’t want to put a burden on my parents for my issues because neither could I legally fight them on my own, nor did I have any mental energy left. Fighting a case would deplete more of my mental energy. I let go of it, with the thought that I will do something for mental health awareness when I gather more energy.
I changed my college in September, did my projects all over again. Now, that I look back to that time, I can’t explain how glad and proud I am of myself to have changed my college and made my mental health my priority.
The reason I am here, talking about my experience is because in spite of efforts for mental health awareness, there are still people who don't see mental health concerns as real as physical health concerns. They still require you to talk in whispers even though having mental health concerns is nothing to be ashamed of or hide. It breaks my heart that there would've been so many people other than me who would’ve suffered in the same way, only due to lack of awareness.
During my research, I got to know that the government of India spends only 0.5% of the total healthcare budget on mental health and that 1 out of 7 people in India suffer from mental health issues.
It is high time we start taking mental health issues seriously and spread awareness so that people don’t suffer, so that people seek help and talk about mental health issues as openly as they talk about other health problems.
Here are some ways by which you can do your bit to spread awareness about mental health and normalise seeking help.
Gather Knowledge about Mental Health-
Research and know your facts about mental health concerns. Get rid of misconceptions, if you have any. Clear your doubts by reaching out to therapists or pages on social media about mental health.
Talk about Mental Health Concerns-
Stop treating mental health as a taboo topic that cannot be discussed in the open. The more you discuss mental health, the more you spread awareness and encourage people to seek help. This will help you contribute towards ending the stigma around seeking help. You can share your experiences to motivate people to talk about mental health, including children. Talk to people you know and if you sense any indication of mental health concerns, suggest therapy to them and be there for them as much as you can. Make sure you use kind words, pay attention, support individuals with mental health concerns and hear them out to what they are saying, even if you cannot directly help them.
Encourage People to go for Therapy-
A lot of times, you don’t even realize when you are facing something unhealthy, mentally. Go to a therapist if you feel mentally sick or even if you want to grow as a person. Therapy is not needed only when you have mental health concerns. If you see people suffering or in search for help, encourage them to go for therapy. Read more about how you can tell a loved one to seek therapy, here.
Use Social Media to Spread Awareness- Social-Media can come in handy when you want to spread awareness about mental health. You can share inspiring stories, facts, quotes or anything that you feel will help you spread more awareness about mental health.
“It’s time to invest in your mental health.
Make your mental health a priority.”
Your mental health matters as much as your physical health. It’s time to tear the stigma down and seek help when you need it. If you’re looking at talking to a professional, book your Free Consultation with us on https://www.themoodspace.com/freeconsultation or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a step towards bettering your mental wellbeing because you deserve it!
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