World Mental Health Day and significance for India

Countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic have seen a sharp surge in anxiety and other mental health issues.

World Mental Health Day is celebrated all around the world on October 10 to increase awareness about disease and state. This year the day has added importance because there has been a steep rise in mental ailments during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown, work from home, online classes, these are all adjustments that had to be made in face of the Coronavirus pandemic. These are stop-gap measures considering the situation. However, the prolonging of the pandemic has brought numerous associated pitfalls and has severely affected the mental health of the population.

Countries worst hit by COVID-19 also hit by Mental disorders

A recent report by Lancet revealed that the countries which have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic are also the countries that have seen a sharp surge in anxiety and other mental disorder cases.

In India, mental ailments are not even considered as an ailment and mental health facilities are often underfunded. Ailments such as dementia and Parkinson syndrome are often brushed aside as vagaries of old age which does not need treatment. In local lingo, we say that ‘Budha sathiya gaya’ when he forgets something continuously or has bouts of dementia and is unable to remember where he has kept his spectacles.

Mental health, mental ailments and India

Mental ailment is often referred to in our country as madness and every effort is made to shun the person from the public eye often with grave consequences. To date, the two mental asylum facilities, one in Gwalior and one in Nagpur is referred to as ‘Pagalkhana’ which literally translates to ‘madhouse’.

Research on psychology and mental health is negligible. Lack of funding is one of the biggest hurdles. Couple this with an extremely poor prognosis leads to most pharma houses having very little interest in developing new medicines.

Age-old methods used to treat mental disorders

The same old concoction of pheno-baritones, Sodium Valproate is still used today.  It may surprise that Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or rendering electric shocks was still used in our country till recent times whereas they have been discontinued decades ago by the developed countries.

Mental disorders on the rise in India

Depression and Anxiety disorders are also very common symptoms seen in teens and young individuals. Cutthroat competition and constant goading by elders often send students into a state of constant anxiety often with devastating consequences.

Students are constantly reminded that failure is not an option in any circumstances and often provoke suicidal tendencies in students. Data reveals that after every examination there is a steep rise in suicide attempts. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 2019, India lost more than 1.7 lakh students to suicides.  

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