“It’s just an excuse to stay in bed”, “there is no such thing” , “don’t overthink”.These are some common phrases heard regarding mental illnesses which most of us aren’t familiar with so we deny their existence.Even if crystal clear signs and symptoms are available,it’s prevalence is often questioned or turned a blind eye to due to the stigma attached to it.The stigma is mainly due to ignorance and unawareness about the whole concept of mental illness and the need to keep up with one’s mental health.
The Health Education Authority define mental health in 1977 as “the emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to survive pain,disappointment and sadness.”The WHO(World Health Organisation) stresses that mental health “is not just the absence of mental disorder”.Mental health includes one’s overall social well-being.It determines how things affect us,how we react to it and how we feel.Keeping up with one’s mental health is essential at every stage in life,be it the risky teenage or the declining old age.The above statement is fueled by the statistics that show that mental illnesses are highest in both the aforementioned age groups. In India, WHO estimates that the burden of mental health problems is of the tune of 2,443 DALYs per 100,000 population , and the age-adjusted suicide rate per 100,000 population is 21.1.India is said to be the most depressed country followed by China and then the USA.
There are many reasons that cause mental illnesses which are:
1.It’s said that mental illnesses sometimes run in the families,suggesting that people who have a family member with a mental illness maybe somewhat more likely to develop one themselves.
2.Certain infections have been linked to brain damage and the cause of developing mental illnesses or worsening it’s symptoms.
3.Injury in the brain is also linked with mental illnesses.
4.Evidence show that a disruption in early brain development or trauma that occurs at the time of birth like lack of oxygen etc can also cause mental illnesses.
5.Prolonged substance abuse has also been linked with anxiety and mental illnesses.
What our society don’t understand is how people suffering from such ailments have to be even more conscious and careful about hiding it and simultaneously also have to deal with it.Such internal pressure to hide this can actually trigger some more symptoms,worsening one’s condition.They have to be careful all the time so as not to expose any symptoms which becomes a constant remnant of the plight they are in.One also likes to stay aloof from people which makes people to fabricate stories about the concerned person due to the change in behavior.This is exactly how it manifests more and more,making one’s life horrendous if one does not get the support or environment to be open about it.We as a society do not need to sympathize with them but emphathize.
The change is bound to come as there are many platforms spreading awareness about the same and dragging people out of their zones to talk about it and address it.The need of the hour is sensitization and creation of more dialogue to create a safe space for those affected and normalization of the idea by display of care,affection and support.