Mental health: Time to face reality

GOA: Mental health has become a problem not only in India but also globally. With illnesses ranging from minor depression to conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia prevalent, there is no denying that it’s time that we came out of the closet.


As per the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimate, diseases related to mental health are the leading cause of disability in the world today. Nearly 75% of the total number of cases start in an individuals’ early 20’s.
India is not untouched by this silent killer. According to a report, one in every five Indians suffers from depression. Other afflictions, such as suicides and bipolar disorders, are also on the rise.
In order to address the issue and to underscore the importance of mental health, WHO celebrates ‘World Mental Health Day’ annually on October 10.
The theme for this year was ‘Psychological first aid’. National Mental Health Week is also observed in India from October 8 to 15 to make people aware of the magnitude of mental health problem in India.
The prevalence of depression among Indians is around five per cent, and, for a country like India, this is a huge number. A majority of the cases go undiagnosed and people are forced to suffer in isolation.
Social factors like poverty, unemployment, lack of social security and societal stress act as a trigger for the illness to set in and reasons like cultural and religious beliefs, lack of awareness, infrastructure, and trained professionals, and the stigma associated with mental illness, stops people from getting treatment at an early stage.
Unlike other diseases, a person’s mental health also affects his general health, social and personal life, and even the quality of life. According to an estimate, people with mental illness die 10-12 years earlier than others would. Social awareness among people in the community and counseling for family members, relatives and friends do wonders in the outcome of treatments.
In this new age world, where accidents, natural calamities, wars, conflicts, migrations, refugees, unemployment and relationship-related stress take a heavy toll on mental health, it is imperative for us to reach out to those suffering in order to stem mental illness.
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a humane, supportive and practical approach for people exposed to serious stresses and who may need support. It is an approach to help people recover by responding to their basic needs and showing them concern and care in a way that respects their wishes, culture, dignity and capabilities. PFA is involved in giving non-intrusive practical care and support, assessing people’s needs, providing them with basic requirements like food and water, listening but not pressuring to talk, and comforting and protecting people from further harm.
People from the general community, who are mostly considered to be the first contact in crimes such as health workers, teachers, firefighters, police officers and social workers act as givers of PFA.

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