Did you know that half of the mental illnesses start in our formative years itself? They start as early as you are 14. So why do they remain undetected and untreated till late in life? That is because most often people have little or no awareness of mental health. Spotting the early signs and symptoms can help your friend, spouse or even parents fight their mental health problems and cope better.
With over a billion people in our country, one in 5 people are expected to be prone to depression in their lifetime. India’s mental health burden is more than 150 million at present. However, only 10- 12 percent of those people reach out for support. This is because of the stigma associated with mental illnesses, the judgement from society and the perceived fear about how mentally ill people behave. (2) Being aware about mental health can help bring a tremendous change in such behaviour.
After failing in a subject in his board exams, Mrs Sharma’s son Samit had been a changed person. He had no appetite, had stopped going out with his friends and would stay locked up in his room for days, with no interaction with either of his family members. Mrs Sharma was starting to get worried. She had tried her best to encourage him but nothing seemed to be working.
One day, she went to visit a friend of Samit to know if he had shared something with him. That’s when his mother, Mrs Diwan, sat her down. After Mrs Sharma narrated her experience, she suggested that Samit might need professional help. Mrs Sharma shrugged it off. She was not able to accept that her son was spiralling into depression. Being aware about mental health, Mrs Diwan tried to reassure her that the right treatment and the right support would go a long, but the first step towards recovery was acknowledging that there was something to recover from.
Mrs Diwan’s awareness of mental health is something Mrs Sharma thanked her for. Mrs Diwan was right about Samit’s depression. It is the third leading cause of mental illnesses, while suicide comes a close second among 15-29-year-olds. Teenage alcohol and drug abuse has emerged as the topmost issue in many countries. Eating disorders are also common.
In a Live Laugh Love Foundation (TLLLF), 87 percent of people surveyed displayed heightened mental health awareness while 71 percent of them thought that people with mental illness are retards, irresponsible and mad. This is proof that stigma and awareness go hand in hand. Awareness on mental health can reduce such negative perception. After her discussion with Mrs Diwan, Mrs Sharma started treating her son with empathy and found a good psychologist for him. She would accompany her son for regular sessions and became his pillar of support, rather than being in denial.
The more aware we are about our mental health, the more can we perceive changes in those of others. Mental health awareness starts with you and when it becomes a part of a community it increases the chances of early intervention, which in turn can help the patient recover faster. Today Samit is doing well in his career. He reappeared for his exam and cleared it, though it took him more time than others. Unaware of his condition earlier, today he offers support to others going through the same phase, by volunteering with an NGO.
Mental illness is similar to getting a fever or a cough, which require adequate treatment and support. Only, this requires more than just medicines. You can protect your health with Bajaj Allianz health insurance available on Finserv MARKETS, but when it comes to your mental health remember not only to be aware, but spread the awareness amongst those you know as well. Help someone. Ostracising those with mental health problems or discussing mental health in hushed voices is only worsening the problem.
Also read in detail about the health insurance tax benefits you can avail with a variety of health plans available on Finserv MARKETS.
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