Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioural, and emotional wellbeing – it is all about how we think, feel, and behave. It’s imperative to understand that physical and mental health are interconnected. In fact, it is seen that the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for consolidating information from long to short term memory) is found to be 9-13% smaller in women who suffer from depression. For the longest time, mental health has been ignored and deemed insignificant by society. Denouncement and stigmatisation of mental disorders have led to discrimination. Many people suffering from such disorders are often too afraid to seek treatment. Most people’s problems are worsened by the prejudice. Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Schizophrenia, and Psychosis are just some of the many identified mental illnesses. For the longest time, these haven’t been treated as “real problems.” We neglect these issues by brazenly asking others to “stop being sad” or “get over it.” But where do we draw the line between feeling low and being depressed? How can one can identify if they have a mental disorder? Some common symptoms like irregular sleep pattern, change in appetite, nightmares, increased suicidal thoughts serve as an indication. Self-diagnosis is not advisable; hence, it is suggested you visit a licensed practitioner and seek help. The most important thing is to remember that you are not alone. There is always someone ready to help you. And it’s not a bad thing to ask for help. Remember what Dumbledore said? “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” It’s essential to understand that not everyone responds to medication and therapy in the same way, and that’s alright. There is no hard and fast way in which a particular disorder can be treated for an individual. There are however, a lot of stimulants that can help reduce the symptoms of several mental disorders. These include antidepressants, anticonvulsants and anti-anxiety drugs. Consumption of these drugs requires a prescription by a licensed practitioner. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps establish one method that focuses on your actions and behaviours.
A lot of organisations focus on mental health and its importance. Renowned ones like To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and Metanoia are well established and are working towards the well-being of individuals.
In India there are a lot of organisations working towards mental health awareness. The Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) works on making mental health accessible to marginalised persons and communities. The Banyan Organisation is based in Chennai and caters to mentally ill and homeless women in the city. They now have chapters in Trichy, Kerala and Maharashtra. Their vision is to work towards “An inclusive and humane world that promotes capabilities, equity and justice.” They have 35 support groups who have managed to rescue 3,000 homeless individuals.
An up-and-coming organisation, based out of Hyderabad, is Breaktheice (BTI) Started in 2018, they’re a team of 6 young enthusiasts who strongly believe that it’s okay to not be okay. Led by Akhila Bukkapatnam, a second-year business administration student at the University of Texas, Dallas, they’re working towards breaking the stigma of mental illnesses by creating awareness. Last summer, they organised a two-day long event where they spoke about several mental disorders. By giving them the platform, they encouraged their audience to share their personal experiences and problems.
With the help of such organisations, we hope to raise awareness about the reality of mental health and illness. Spread hope, and offer help to those in need <3