We observe October as Mental Health Awareness Month.It raises awareness about mental illnesses, such as: depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. It also draws attention to suicide, which is predominately precipitated by some mental illness.
Are you torn apart between whether to live life your own way or be the way your close ones want you to be? Do you feel suffocated and confined in your work and feel stressed? Does the work seem lifeless and boring? Do you experience burnout over multiple roles and responsibilities that are expected out of you? Do you dislike yourself? ……Almost all of us would have experienced above questions, difficulties and dilemmas at some point in our life. If we are unable to cope with them, these everyday issues have the risk of turning into chronic psychological and psychiatric problems.
Quite a few of us suffer from mental health issues but are reluctant to seek help. India might be developing at a staggering rate but it still needs to overcome the stigma of psychological problems. While it is very easy for people to accept that they have a medical disease and seek help the same is not true for a psychological problem. People feel that they are weak, bad, feeble or mad if they have a psychological problem. They fear that by accepting that they have a mental health problem they will get rejected and mocked at, bring disgrace to their family and hurt their closed ones. The result is often silence and a complete denial of problem.
The fact is that anyone of us including all mental health professionals carry a risk of having psychological and psychiatric disorders. The earlier these conditions are diagnosed and treated the better is the prognosis and overall quality of life. If they are denied and neglected then they hamper the overall functioning of the individual and may manifest as serious conditions.
If you feel that either you or someone close to you shows any of the following signs: is unable to realize his or her potential, keeps distressed and withdrawn for long periods of time, views himself or others negatively, has poor interpersonal relations, has difficulty in performing at work, is unable to understand social conventions, undergoes emotional suffering or makes others suffer then there is an alarm bell ringing. Help is just a call away. There are advanced psychological therapies and psychiatric drugs to combat these problems.
Mental health is not just an absence of disease but a presence of a state of intrapsychic, interpersonal, occupational, social and spiritual well-being. There have been many advances in psychology which focus on the whole personality of the individual and help the person to grow. Apart from being disease-free mental health treatment can also infuse a new existence and self into your existing personality. So let us welcome a new self in this mental health awareness month.
Author: Pulkit Sharma is Clinical Psychologist at Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (VIMHANS), New Delhi.