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Mental Health and the Indian Society

After quite a lot of time, the concept of mental health has come to light in the Indian society. People are taking into consideration their mental health and being open about the same. Moreover, the ongoing pandemic has greatly highlighted the importance of mental health and how it’s the need of the hour. However, this topic is not as new as we think it is. Mentions of topics related to mental health have been found in the ancient texts of Vedas, out of which a vivid description of schizophrenia is found in Atharva Veda. There were other medical systems, such as Siddha, which recognized various types of mental conditions, flourished in Southern India. The Bhagavad Gita also holds a classical example of crisis intervention psychotherapy.

Over the years, the notion of mental health has evolved in India through global trends as they have a direct and clear bearing on our perspectives. This has helped in the attainment of the same in various spheres, such as the economic, political, and social.

Mental health in the economic sphere is ensured by NGOs as they aim to provide free counseling and treatments, various government hospitals provide boards for the same but they are insufficient. The burden of mental health problems in India 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. It is estimated that, in India, the economic loss, due to mental health conditions, between 2012-2030, is 1.03 trillions of 2010 dollars. Hence, the policymakers have to be more considerate to promote the availability of cost-effective treatment of common mental disorders so that even the underprivileged can benefit from it.

In the political domain, mental health is being prioritized and is supported by the successful sanctioning of the Mental Healthcare Act, which is expected to come into effect soon. Furthermore, the NDA government has also bought the National Mental Health Policy in 2014. Coming to the social aspect of society, people today are more aware of the existence of mental health and with the ongoing scenario, they are disseminating information through online webinars and/or counseling.

But these online initiatives, counseling, and treatments are only accessible to a certain section of society. In a country like India, the population density is comparatively high and thus the advantages of mental health treatments are not available to all. The lack of awareness and adequate funds among underprivileged is another barrier that prevents the outreach of mental health treatments.

On a personal and individual level, the acceptance of mental illness is of the utmost importance. People tend to ignore the psychological aspect of their lives and pay heed to the illusion of being perfectly fine. The reason for this is their fear in discussing their psychological states and this could arise out of the need to be validated and accepted in a society that is often unforgiving. Thus, society and the individual should come in sync so that we can be more open about mental health issues and should not be afraid or hide them. This can only happen when we start accepting ourselves as who we are and remove the distorted image of perfection because ultimately no one is perfect.

By - Shriya Bhatt

Graphics by - Brijesh Kumar

#mentalhealth #positivity #societyandmentalhealth

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