Life is precious and our body is a mechanism that lets us know that we are alive. As human beings, gifted with the power of inquisitiveness and the ability to understand life and its nuances, we take many measures to make our life as good as possible. Health has to be the prime area of our concern and focus. We spend each day of our lives protecting our body from nature and diseases to keep it fit so that we can enjoy the small and big moments that life presents us with. From regular diet care to fad diets, from brisk walks every morning to gym sessions, from yoga to Zumba we try to take care of our body in every possible way. But what we forget, in the process, or tend to ignore is our mental health.
For a person to be completely healthy, both the body and the mind must be healthy. Mental health is an integral part of being healthy and not just the absence of mental illnesses. The World Health Organisation (WHO), revealed in a report, that 7.5 percent of the Indian population suffers from a mental disorder in one form or the other. It also predicts that by 2020, the percentage will increase roughly to 20 percent. While the population today is more than aware of things that they need to do to stay physically fit, the zeal to stay mentally healthy is close to nowhere. Mental health issues are often treated first with denial and then with contempt.
This brings us to the question – why the lack of awareness? Some blame it on the way the society has been treating people with mental illness. More often than not, mental issues are not taken seriously and termed as just another phase in a person’s life. We tend to link our mental condition to certain pressures that we are facing instead of linking them to a form of the disease. Mostly because if we take it up as a disease, it becomes a taboo. Secondly, comes the availability of professionals. In terms of numbers, the treatment gap defined as the prevalence of mental illnesses and the proportion of patients that get treatment is over 70 percent. To translate roughly, we have less than 4,000 mental health professionals to treat our population.
With a limited approach to specialized doctors and even lesser access to diagnostic facilities, the mental health issue is increasing at an alarming rate. In the past few years, various movements and opening up of celebrities on social media have managed to clear the air around a mental health issue. Campaigns like #OctoberAllies #notashamed #worldmentalhealthday #TalkitThrough have managed to raise awareness. October 10, every year since 1992, has been celebrated as World Mental Health Day. But this awareness needs to be translated into action. And what better way to enact than to start with oneself and dear ones.
So next time you or anyone dear to you feel things going out of hands, relax, take a deep breath and pause for a while. Talk it out with those you trust and take some time out for your mind to be at peace. If you still think things are not the way they should be, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a doctor. Mental diseases are just another health disorder, nothing less, nothing more. After all, as the Yoga Guru, BKS Iyengar said, “Health is a state of harmony of the body, mind, and spirit.”
– Sneha Sinha