There is an unfair disparity in the way we treat our physical and mental health. We look for tangible symptoms while diagnosing a person’s illness, but often ignore the intangible, yet real symptoms. Anxiety, loss of appetite, panic attacks, depressive episodes, “rebellious” phase and insomnia – these are some common symptoms of deteriorating mental health quietly swept under the rug. Mental health has been stigmatised in our society – even though the development of character depends on a healthy functioning brain. World Mental Health Awareness Week aims to break the chains of stigma around mental health and encourages people to seek professional treatment.
The digital era plays a big role in shaping the minds of our generation. Children have started relying on the internet from a very young age, and seem to learn quickly. While social media and its analogues have benefitted us in more ways than we can count, it has also taken control of our emotions. Here is a list of reasons causing anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and suicidal tendencies in teenagers, young adults and adults alike:
- “Likes” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.
- Number of followers/friends on social media
- The harmful influence of pop culture
- Lack of authenticity in the circulating content, which is detrimental to a person’s confidence and self-image
It is important to protect yourself from the negative side of social media. Online frauds and other similar deceptions lead to numerous suicides and chronically harm a person’s mental health. The key is to balance your time and investment in social media, as well as filter out what is not good. With the growing need and consumption of online marketing, it is necessary to educate yourself and those younger to you about the importance of moderation and control in maintaining a healthy mental state.
On this World Mental Health Day (10th October 2019), the WHO is focussing on suicide prevention. According to their reports, one person commits suicide at an alarming rate of every 40 seconds.1 This is a statistic that should be pushing people to do better as individuals. It is high time to include mental health as a compulsory topic in schools and colleges. Students should be taught about:
- What a healthy mental state really is
- Various mental illnesses and their prevalence
- Recognising symptoms
- Healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the pressures of school
- The role of a healthy diet, yoga, exercise and reading to elevate mental health
Counselling by mental health professionals should be encouraged. Additionally, seminars and workshops should be conducted, helping students learn more about mental health and its management.
These reforms are needed not only in schools but also in workplaces. The stressful environment of an office is a contributing factor to poor mental health. Efforts should be made to increase the productivity of employees without costing their mental health. It is also important to initiate conversations about mental health in our households. This will aid in erasing the stigma surrounding this topic, allowing to seek help if necessary.
We need to remember – It is okay not to be okay. We are allowed to be tired, sad, irritated and alone without being shamed for it. Our generation has more awareness as well as tools to eradicate the stigma around mental health, and it is our moral responsibility to do so.
This Mental Health Week, step out and spread the word. Together, we can be the change we want to see.