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The onus of sound mental health is not only on psychologists and psychiatrists. It's also on us, the society.
“What is your earliest memory of childhood?”
I was asked this the other day and the only thing that came to my mind is me playing on the slide outside the school waiting for my mother to pick me up. Yes, that was the much-awaited part of going to school, being picked up by my mother and recounting the day. This habit continued till I was in the 1st or 2nd standard, post which I started venturing out alone. But my special connection with my mother has remained the same till now even when I am 31 years old.
I share all my ideas, wins and joys with her, yes you guessed it right, she is my best friend. Do I have other close friends? Yes, I do. I have a circle of few friends, my father, a mentor cum brother, cousins and a lovely aunt. I do share my joys, sorrows and wins with them. I do consult them on matters that bother me and they do consult me as well when they want.
I am privileged to have access to a supportive space but still, I had depression during my college. All these people were there then too but I had disconnected from them or mainly was not expressing myself clearly to them or myself as well. I had created a vicious circle of fear and assumptions that led to a diagnosis of psychotic depression. Of course, the disconnection was part of the psychotic depression itself. It was to an extent not in my hands then. But maybe I would have gained therapy and support faster if I had been able to identify the signs?
Many psychologists and psychiatrists say that mental health service users are reluctant and refuse therapy and treatment initially. But, why is it so? People do not resist treatment for arthritis or diabetes. It’s probably because the literature and content available on mental health are limited and there is a high level of stigma associated with it. What if it is taught in schools and colleges to every student at a basic level? What if the importance of emotional well-being and not just intelligence is emphasized by society and the education system? Then perhaps people will more easily identify the signs themselves and seek medical attention quickly.
The onus of sound mental health is not only on psychologists and psychiatrists. It’s on us, the society. We need to bring systemic changes at both policy and societal levels and also the individual level to see a significant change. We need to have more and more conversations about it in the living room, parities, workspaces, etc. and not just restrict it to the psychiatrist’s couch. But we also need to keep in mind to not label or dismiss a person based on their traits, behaviour or actions. We, as a society, should be there for each other and then that perhaps will bring a minuscule degree of change in the mental health domain, where a lot of work needs to be done.
First published here.
Image Credits: Finn | Unsplash
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