World Mental Health Day is commemorated on 10th October every year. It was first observed in 1992 and since then, it is celebrated across the globe. It entails acknowledgement, general awareness and the impetus to educate the community at large about mental health concerns and the remedial actions that one can take on an individual and collective level. The ever increasing importance of psychological issues and wellness has been a gigantic wave in the recent past and it is expected to rise massively.
The concept of mental health has been revolutionary over the years. Mental health is the emperor in today’s world. However, this wasn’t the case a few years back and even now we have a long way to go. The stigma around this profession has been deep-rooted in the psyche of mankind. People didn’t know that mental health can be as vital as any other ailment. More so, it’s purely a consequence of cultural and social conditioning that the idea of mental disorder and well-being wasn’t talked about or discussed openly in every household.
This insinuates us to bring this conversation to the table so that we become more aware and spreadiit amongst others. Especially around this time of the year, the COVID pandemic era has escalated the cases to the next level. There is no doubt about the fact that today psychology as a profession and psychologists are given their due value and significance that they should have been given way before. Having said that, in India and in other countries as well, there are large sections of society that do not understand this mental health construct. It’s high time that we as individuals and as members of a community recognize the utmost urgency, necessity and the need to discern this whole psychological dysfunction and how to combat it. As the World Mental Health Day is being observed today on 10th October, 2020, mental health advocates, professionals and experts are front line workers who have been working collectively and collaborating for months and months to raise the quality of the voice for the same.
It is very common that if an individual has any health-related disease, for example – a viral fever or any other bodily infection, he/she will consult a doctor and get treated after a check-up. However, when it comes to psychological issues/illnesses of any sort, the first reaction is the lack of acknowledgement or awareness about the existing problem followed by the lack of acceptance (even if there is acknowledgement) and lastly if by any chance these above two conditions prevail – no steps are taken further for the improvement of the problem or for betterment. It seems unfair because the individual is denying his/her own reality and doing injustice to themselves.
The question that arises post that is as to why this is even a dilemma?
The answer is because from generations, people have been ingrained with this irrational, intense preconceived prejudice, stigmatizing beliefs and imbibed the fear of being negatively evaluated, judged and looked down upon by other members of the society. Henceforth, starting a conversation or seeking help or even helping oneself is compromised, and staying oblivious, stuck and making the condition worse becomes the preferred choice/priority. When people start acting out on these values with this kind of biased attitude, the consequence is a “societal blemish” which is as contagious as common cold. The problem never subsides; it still exists, in fact, it has aggravated only because of the prolonged ignorance.
Studies indicate that despite providing mental health care services, people do not access them due to factors such as difference in attitude of seeking help, the importance of mental health care, concerns over the cost and coverage as barriers to receiving professional care, etc. which leads to reduced use of mental health facilities. It’s time that we break the myths and taboos surrounding psychological help and start a conversation about the concerns, issues and battles that we’ve been fighting silently. Prioritizing mental health should become the new normal. With the alarming increase in mental health needs of the population, it becomes the responsibility of psychologists and other professionals of the same field to psycheducate as many people as they can regarding the significance, demand and supply of mental well-being and overall quality of a healthy lifestyle.
In today’s changing climate of contemporary collectivist Asian culture, there has been a paradigm shift with respect to the rapidly growing quest for the psyche of human beings and animal behavior, and how it leaves a profound long-lasting impact. This article underscores on the need for psychological first-aid, mental health resources, identifying cultural pressure and societal norms encircled around mental health, perceived stigma and stereotypical attitudes towards asking for professional help and advocating a wider range of sub-disciplines under the umbrella of mental illness and treatment procedures. The continuing positive change with respect to the acceptance of our helping profession and normalizing the intensity of the psychological, socio-occupational, emotional, spiritual and behavioural disturbances which can be prevented, treated and managed is a breath of fresh air for our community.
There is no doubt about the fact that in present times, people are taking mental health seriously and seeking help when needed. We are progressing as a nation. After all, it’s all about evolution; we evolve towards change and growth gradually, nothing happens overnight. We must take accountability as individuals then only can we improve and work at a group level to bring about an adaptive, healthier and bigger transformation in our respective field. To conclude, sharing is caring as it all starts from a conversation and change is the only constant.
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