MENTAL HEALTH: A SOCIAL STIGMA

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close.

INTRODUCTION: Mental health is more than the absence of mental diseases; it is a vital component of overall well-being. It is the foundation for an individual’s well-being and productive functioning. It covers mental health, mental problem prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

According to the WHO, India’s mental health burden is 2443 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) per 100 000 population, with a 21.1 age-adjusted suicide rate per 100 000 population. Between 2012 and 2030, the economic loss owing to mental health disorders is predicted to be USD 1.03 trillion.

Whether it is autism and intellectual disability in childhood, or adult disorders like depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and psychosis, or dementia in later life, the globe is facing a mental illness crisis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illness accounts for approximately 15% of all disease conditions worldwide. According to the same assessment, India has one of the world’s highest populations of people suffering from mental illness. As a result, the World Health Organization has designated India as the world’s “most depressing country.” According to a study, one in every seven Indians suffered from a mental disease between 1990 and 2017, ranging from sadness to anxiety to serious disorders such as schizophrenia. It is not an exaggeration to say that the country is experiencing a mental health crisis.

The lack of understanding and sensitivity regarding the issue is the primary reason for India’s mental health decline. There is a lot of stigmas attached to persons who have mental health problems. They are frequently labeled as “lunatics” by society. As a result, the patients are trapped in a vicious cycle of guilt, anguish, and isolation. In addition, India has a severe scarcity of mental health professionals. According to the World Health Organization, India had 301 psychiatrists and 0047 psychologists for every 100,000 patients suffering from mental illness in 2011. These factors are exacerbating the problem’s severity and require prompt attention.

The public stigma associated with mental illness has a greater detrimental influence on young people seeking help than it does on adults. Young individuals with mental health issues are more prone to feel isolated from the rest of society. Furthermore, when compared to adults, young people are less likely to seek treatment for mental health difficulties due to concerns about confidentiality, peer pressure, a desire to be self-sufficient, and a lack of information about mental health problems or mental-health-related services. Adolescents, surprise, find it more difficult to report their mental health difficulties than young adults in a study.

HOW CAN MENTAL AWARENESS BE SPREAD: Positive results have come from mental health awareness efforts. Participation by family members, sensitization to treatment, and social inclusion are some of the tactics used to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around mental illness. The mental health care delivery system faces a problem due to a lack of understanding regarding mental diseases. The importance of community-based systems in low-income countries has been underlined in research, which has also generated beneficial outcomes in terms of raising awareness and thereby influencing participation.
Health literacy and awareness are two sides of the same coin. Ignorance and misinformation have negative consequences such as stigma and prejudice. There have been a few studies in India that have measured mental health literacy. According to one study, adolescent mental health literacy is extremely low, with just 29.04 percent of adolescents recognizing depression and only 1.31 percent recognizing schizophrenia/psychosis. Help-seeking was shown to be fraught with stigma.

Because of the impact of stigma, different programs have been established around the world to combat stereotypes and discrimination that cause social handicaps. Mental health awareness programs have a good influence and can change people’s perceptions of mental diseases. More thorough reviews are needed, however, to determine the long-term impact of initiatives to improve mental health literacy around the world.

1.) Conventional Media: The prior effort in the field of mental health awareness relied heavily on the media. So far, celebrity endorsements, such as actress Deepika Padukone’s recent one sharing her experience with depression, have been the mainstay of media campaigns, along with brief ad taglines and content-rich narrations and documentaries. It is a relatively simple step to make evidence-based mental health information available to journalists and other content providers, such as internet portals, from trusted and reliable sources like the Indian Psychiatry Society, research organizations, medical colleges, and so on, via their websites.

2.) Government Programs: Despite some skepticism about the amount, the government continues to be the single largest spender in the mental health field. While most innovative initiatives stay isolated and confined to metropolitan regions, only the public health system can reach the rural masses through large-scale programs. In addition to the National and District Mental Health Programs, the National Rural Health Mission is on its way to becoming the vehicle for delivering mental health as part of integrated primary care at the forefront of the public healthcare system.

3.) Educational System: The majority of chronic and persistent mental diseases begin before the age of 24 when the majority of people are still in school. From incorporating mental health narratives into curricula to de-stigmatization, discriminatory removal, and early diagnosis, to empowering stakeholders for early detection and simple interventions, the educational system has a plethora of chances for improving mental health awareness.

4.) Industry: Mental illness causes a large loss of competent labor in the organized sector. It is critical to engage in mental health awareness in a deliberate manner not just as a part of corporate social responsibility but also to sustain productivity.

CONCLUSION: Given that most previous initiatives to improve mental health in less-developed nations have failed over the past six decades or more, the time has come to take on a fresh strategy with renewed zeal. Mental health education can serve as both a means and an end to this apathy. Progressive government policies based on evidence-based approaches, an involved media, a thriving educational system, a responsive industry, aggressive use of newer technology, and creative crowd-sourcing might all work together to help alleviate the scourge of mental diseases.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/2/e006355

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

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