Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being, yet it often remains a neglected and stigmatized issue in many societies, including in India. While the Mental Health Awareness Month, observed globally in May, holds significant importance by serving as a reminder of the pressing need to address these issues, reduce stigma, and promote a culture of care and understanding. We should talk about mental health round-the-year to ensure all related issues are addressed.
A country with a population of over 1.4 billion, India faces a substantial burden of mental health issues, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating an approximate 7.5% of Indians to be suffering from some form of mental disorder, among which depression and anxiety are the most prevalent. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated this crisis, with increased stress, isolation, and uncertainty affecting people’s mental well-being.
One of the primary objectives of mental health awareness in India is to reduce the associated stigma, where mental health problems are often brushed under the carpet due to fear of discrimination or misunderstanding. People may hesitate to seek help or support, leading to worsening of their conditions. By promoting open discussions, sharing personal stories, and educating the public about mental health, awareness will help create an environment where individuals feel safe and comfortable to seek help.
Awareness also plays a crucial role in promoting understanding and empathy towards those facing mental health challenges, encouraging friends, family, and colleagues to educate themselves about mental health, besides being more supportive of their loved ones. IT is only when people understand the nature of mental illnesses and their effects, that they can offer better support and encouragement to those in need.
Another vital aspect is to raise awareness about available resources and services in India since many might not be aware of such healthcare facilities, helpline numbers, and support groups that can assist when it comes to mental health concerns. People can learn about the resources they can access for themselves or for others who may require help, through awareness campaigns and educational programmes.
Awareness will also encourage people to prioritize their mental well-being by practicing self-care and building resilience, as this will also emphasize the importance of taking steps to maintain good mental health, such as regular exercise, mindfulness, stress management, and seeking professional help when necessary because building resilience is essential in facing life’s challenges and setbacks.
Awareness also serves as a platform to advocate for policy changes and improvements in mental healthcare services across the country, besides drawing attention to the need for increased funding, better access to mental health professionals, and the integration of mental health services into the broader healthcare system. By highlighting these issues, advocates can work towards creating a more supportive and inclusive mental healthcare system. Ultimately, it is a step towards a healthier and happier India, where everyone’s mental well-being is cared for and acknowledged.
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