Practical Tips to Manage Mental Health

June 9, 2019

The pandemic has greatly highlighted the fact that how important it is to learn coping strategies to manage our emotions in the uncertain times like these. To address the same, COVID-19 helpline held its tenth interdisciplinary panel discussion as part of its webinar week on the topic “ Practical Tips to Manage Your Mental Health.” The discussion took place on Sunday,28th June, 2020 at 12pm (IST).The session started off by  Ms.Nikita Gupta, who introduced the topic of  discourse, and urged the audience to make it an interactive discussion. Following her Ms. Jaanvi Chopra gave a formal introduction about the panelists, and thereafter handed over it to Ms. Devanshi, who was the moderator for the session. 
The first panelist for the discussion was Mr. Nachiket Mor,visiting scientist at  The Banyan Academy of Leadership In Mental Health,PhD holder in Economics from University of Pennsylvania.Mr. Mor started the discussion by talking about his area of interest,which is, health system design. He aims to take mental health services to a larger audience. Mr. Mor mentioned how The Banyan Academy currently working  with homeless women who are diagnosed with schizophrenia. He also mentioned that presently, the primary health care is underdeveloped in India, and gave an example of the United States and how people are screened for depression routinely. Mr. Mor also talked about his strategies for the expanding the sphere of mental health, one of which was OUTREACH EFFORT. Outreach Effort implies equipping people with the ways to tackle the mental health related problems,for example in Gujarat the master trainers are supposed to train the other health workers so that they can cope better and help others to do the same. Mr. Nachiket also talked about the high suicide mortality rate among the health workers in the current times.  Furthermore, the real challenge is to expand this practice nationwide. The other strategies included INTREGATION of mental health care systems with the primary systems, and  “PRESCRIPTION IN JACKPOT” which is implemented in the UKNHS. He also talked about the factual figures of suicide mortality rates in which younger women aged 15-24 are at the most risk furthermore India has four times higher suicide mortality rate than  the United Kingdom. Mr. Mor further added, that state wise in India, Kerala has the highest suicide rate whereas Bihar has the lowest. On the issue of suicides, Mr. Mor also mentioned how in the United States, urban white middle aged men have high suicide rates as compared to black women – who have low suicide rates due to the quality of expectations of life. 
The second panelist for discussion was Mr.Gorav Gupta,founder of Tulasi Psychiatric and Rehabilitation Centre,national advisor for the government for Mental Healthcare Act,2017. Mr. Gorav Gupta started off the discussion by congratulating the COVID-19 Helpline India team.He talked about how his patients are getting anxious in the current scenario that as soon as they go out or touch something, they keep on washing their hands repeatedly.Mr. Gupta highlighted the fact that the scare of COVID-19 pandemic has created immense pressure and insecurity about the disease and has put future and employment at stake. He mentioned that the current pandemic is shaking up the society to think and introspect about it’s actions. Mr. Gupta further added that since last three months, tuberculosis has caused more deaths than COVID-19, and thus the current scenario needs to be handled in a more innovative way. He said that we are reaching an age where everyone is suddenly on high alert, government is making huge expenditure oh health, thus health and mental health are being prioritized and they will also change the preview of the society. Mr. Gupta mentioned how over the time we will not necessarily require highly skilled mental health specialists rather we can train the under skilled and can equip them with basic ways to handle. Moreover, the majority of mental health workers are under skilled. Mr. Gupta talked about how at these times help lines can play a major role  in guiding people. Furthermore, religious sources have done great amount of work than the mental health domain.Mr. Gupta also said that it could be because of the negativity around the stigma of mental health. He also talked about the treatment of suicide thinking, which could only be done if the person is willing to cooperate, it’s a major issue in the society and can impact the families as well. According to him, better awareness and creating social networks can help in solving the problem of suicide. This also involves handling the situation with a lot of sympathy as well as empathy. 
The last panelist for the session was Mrs.Anita Mishra,certified psychotherapist and counselor. Mrs. Mishra is a working at a very grass – root level. In the webinar she said that there a lot of stigmas around mental health and one really needs to comprehend the human brain.Mrs. Mishra gave some factual insights about human brain, which comprises of 86 billion neurons and each neuron can hold up to 80gb of data. Mrs. Mishra also mentioned that as a progressive society we are not operating from a sense of security but a threat of survival. She also talked about the three levels of brain- animal brain, emotional brain and the executive brain or the new cortex. Mrs. Mishra highlighted the importance of  operating from the collective conscious which help us in avoiding the triggers around us. She further added that as a society we are seeing mental health disorders get aggravated, and this can only be handled well if we built on our consciousness. Mrs. Mishra talked about how religious institutions play a crucial role in bringing in the concept of consciousness and making people reply on their own GPS. She highlighted the importance of consciousness through an example of relationships and how people who work consciously are able to handle their relationships well. 
The panel discussion was followed by an informative question and answer session. The panelists made the audience acquainted with the practical suggestions to manage their mental health. Ms. Jaanvi Chopra then concluded the session by expressing sincere thanks to the panelists as well as the audience.