Give a hand
Mental health has no face, unlike humans, it does not discriminate based on class, caste, colour, gender or religion. Just like our applications read- ‘equal opportunities for all.’
The fear of getting judged stops people from confessing that they are not okay. They choose to get choked with rancour and despair as opposed to being looked down as an outcast. Imagine the level of shame that is attached to ‘mental health’. Every human whether wealthy or poor, accomplished or failed has a void in life, have issues that need to be addressed. But how?
In India, mental health is a taboo. What will my family think? What will people around me say if I admit I’m on medications? Would someone mock me if I confessed my fears? Will they stop talking to me? Will they look down at me? Can I see a medical professional? Can I seek help without being judged? Can I trust people? Will I ever be fine? Am I normal? Do I need someone’s sympathy? These are possibly few of the questions that circulate in a panicked, stressed and restless mind. We don’t like to discuss our mental health, it’s personal not because it is but cause norms of society say so. In our country sex and mental health are personal, people don’t like to discuss these in public. In school, we have special sex education classes but then why don’t we have mental health awareness sessions? Is it not important? Especially for all those students who have to go through a difficult phase of making decisions of their life, not to mention live through the intense pressure of thriving all the competition. They need to be aware of this as much as about anything else. It is normal to not feel okay, the attitude towards mental health needs to change. This change needs to happen now more than ever with social distancing in place. It is normal and okay to not feel happy always, it’s okay if someone wants to speak about their fears, it’s okay to go see a counsellor.
We at microlevel can do so much more to help people around us and also ourselves. Don’t wait for someone you know to come to you for help, rather you should keep checking on them. More importantly, these are the people who are disturbed, anxious, restless, have often lost hope and given up on themselves. Do you think they will approach anyone in a situation like this? More often than not they battle it out within themselves, and we don’t even realise it. We should try to see if something has changed about them. If they are behaving indifferently? Has their approach towards life changed? Look for clues and try to reach out to them proactively. Talk it out with them, indulge them in conversations that would make them feel comfortable. If you think they will reach out to you, that sadly may not happen because they may not have realised, they need to speak. And if the realisation has set in that something is wrong, mustering the courage to accept it and sharing the same with someone is not easy. They don’t need your sympathy, they just need a good listener, a good confider, a trustworthy friend who would not judge them. However, having said this, we also need to recognise and understand how lending your shoulder is all that you can do. Often people may need more support than this, experts in the field exist for a purpose. Encourage your loved ones to consult an expert, help them through the process. Make it sound like any other physician visit. Just as normal as getting flu or breaking a leg. Nothing big nothing major.
It’s okay if your conclusion was not right, but at least you tried. The result will only be good, if they were not okay, they may feel at ease if not you have just assured someone of your support.