Categories: News

Awareness on mental health is important

Dr Ishwar Gilada

(health expert)

In comparison to the seriousness of the challenge of mental health in our country, there is lack of proper awareness and activism about it. This has been proved again by the recent study of Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur. This study highlights that less than one percent of people in India self-report their mental health problems. This study is based on the data of the 75th National Sample Survey of 2017-18. These figures have been prepared after obtaining information from more than 5.55 lakh people in rural and urban areas. Researchers believe that due to the misconception in the society about mental health, people remain silent instead of trying for help or treatment and their problems keep increasing.

In my opinion, the major reason for this situation in India is that the number of nuclear families is increasing and the distance of people from the extended family is increasing due to business or work, so for a person facing mental health problems. It becomes difficult to get close support or guidance. In traditional families, elders played the role of counselors. He could intervene positively in any problem and his views were listened to. At that time, professional mental health counseling was not required. This need started arising when the trend of nuclear families increased. Such families consist of two people and their children. If there is balance between both the people and they are sensitive towards each other’s problems, then there is comfort in life, but when it is not so, then the distance increases and so do the problems. Today, the kind of lifestyle, the way of working, the economic challenges, the hustle and bustle, the challenge of mental health is also increasing and there is a need to pay full attention to it.

The study has also found that the number of rich people reporting their problems and getting solutions to them is more than that of poor people. The reason for this is that rich people are more conscious about their life and health and they can put their problems before professional counselors or doctors without worrying about the useless things of the society. Since they have money, they can avail better facilities and also protect their privacy. Considering this aspect, the government and society should pay more attention to spreading awareness. Generally, whether there is discussion about mental health or provision of counseling or treatment, it mostly happens in big cities. Such facilities should be made available in small cities, towns and villages also. Arrangements for providing information, organizing workshops and counseling can be made in the villages through primary health centers and Panchayat. In the year 2017, the National Mental Health Survey was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences. In that survey it was found that about 19.73 crore people in our country are facing mental problems. This is a very big number. The latest study that has come out shows that less than 23 percent of people have health insurance for mental problems. This figure among the poor is only 3.4 percent. The expenditure in private hospitals is five times more than in government hospitals. Most of the treatment for mental health problems is being done by the private sector. This also means that the facilities in government hospitals are either less or facilities are available only at some places. It is very important to bridge this gap, otherwise we will not be able to handle this huge health challenge properly.

It is also important to note that mental health problems are increasing among children also. If they are not taken care of in the beginning, they may face problems throughout their life. Parents and teachers should be more alert. There is a system of hiring counselors and organizing workshops in some schools, but there is a need for its wider expansion. Attention should be paid to maintaining good relations between husband and wife within the family, officers and subordinate personnel in offices and people in the society. Similarly, time should also be given to the elders in the family, otherwise they feel that their children are not taking care of them and they suffer from mental problems. Sometimes such problems arise due to family and professional reasons, and sometimes due to financial problems. It becomes necessary to properly identify and diagnose such causes. For this counseling becomes important. People should understand that mental health problems are just as serious a problem as any physical problem. If we remain alert about mental health, then many problems like depression, anxiety etc. can be prevented from becoming serious and tendencies like suicide can be prevented.

(These are the personal views of the author.)


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