Why do we need to talk about Mental Health in India now? More than ever!
Mental health does not only refer to mental illnesses. It is important to remember that mental health includes daily activities, attitudes, and anything that is directly or indirectly related to mental well-being. Just because mental health is almost never as visible as physical health, it doesn’t mean that it is any less important or any easier to bear.
There are many things that can influence a person’s mental health and many different ways that mental health can be treated. In 2018, India was classified as the most depressed country in the world.
Today, it is important to talk about mental health in India because talking about mental health raises awareness, lowers the stigma, and encourages others to seek treatment for their own potential mental health issues.
In India, 6.5 percent of the population suffers from some sort of serious mental illness.
While some people in India get the help that they need and deserve, there is a serious lack of professionals who specialize in treating mental health.
In 2018, India had only 3,827 registered psychiatrists. The estimated number of psychiatrists that India actually needed was over 13,500 psychiatrists. On top of this, India is also lacking in clinical psychologists, also known as therapists; with only 898 in 2018 when the estimated need was over 20,250 clinical psychologists.
The difference between a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medicine and it is important to see a clinical psychologist at the same time while taking medications because they can help to track your progress. And even in places where there are psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, the cost in far unaffordable for the majority of Indian citizens.
It is estimated that while only 30 million people in India have access to the mental health care that they need, there are over 150 million who do not have access to any mental health care.
And when people do get the help that they need, they are often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Because there are so many people who need help and so few mental health professionals, appointments are not usually long enough to get a clear gauge of what the patients’ mental health actually looks like.
When visiting a psychiatrist, this can result in someone being prescribed medicine that may not actually be the best for them, making their mental health even worse. The lack of mental health professionals and the flaws in the mental health treatment system is having detrimental effects.
The average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every lakh of people and the average age of the people who commit suicide are people who are under 44 years of age.
First, we must understand that there is nothing wrong with us, and there is no shame in having a mental illness, we are not crazy, we are human. No one should ever be ashamed to be struggling with mental health because most people around the world will struggle with their mental health at least one time in their life.
Mental illness is not visible, and unfortunately, because of this, it is far too easy to classify them as fake and the people who have mental illnesses as simply crazy. This misunderstanding comes from a lack of education and focuses on mental health.
People are scared to talk about their own struggles because they fear to be outcast and not being heard.
It is easy to feel alone and scared when you have a mental health problem and no one to talk to about it, but it is so important to talk about it. The first step in making any kind of large change is to
talk about it.
Starting with friends and family and talking about things you may be struggling with. This creates a ripple effect, they will talk to their friends and family about mental health and the ripples will keep spreading. It may take some time, but this small step will help to end the stigma and ignorance around mental health.
It is also important to encourage people to pursue a career in mental health treatment, whether that means being a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist. The demand for these professions is high in India, it is time to start understanding the value of these professions.
It is easy to say that mental health isn’t important, but when it is broken down one begins to see the huge impact that mental health also has on our physical health. Having good mental health means that you are able to do a better job at work, be more productive, and live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Positive mental health allows people to feel better physically and be more confident. Once mental health starts being seen as an important medical field, people will be able to seek the care that they deserve. Mental health is often ignored because it is not visible; well now is the time to make it visible to other people.
Expressive art therapy, like what is offered through Artscape, can greatly help to make mental illnesses more visible.
The best part of expressive art therapy is that it is also paired with talking to a therapist. So by participating in expressive art therapy and creating art in whatever form you find fit, you are not only making your mental illness visible to share with other people but also finding ways that will make it easier to cope with your mental illness.
When dealing with depression or anxiety, the goal is to use the medication as a way to give you time and a clear mind to be able to learn healthy coping mechanisms for your mental illnesses so one day you can get off the medication. But there is no shame in staying on medication for as long as you need.
Other mental illnesses require patients to be on medication for the rest of their lives. It all varies from person to person and no one should ever feel ashamed of their own journey. Expressive art therapy, paired with medication when needed, can completely change a person’s life.