The Breakthrough Voice 20th May, 2019

6 Assumptions About Mental Health We Need To Do Away With.

Mental health conditions have no relation to a person’s character or sociability.

According to the data published by the World Health Organization (WHO), last year, India was estimated to be the most depressed country in the world. Over the past few years, India witnessed the highest rates of mental health issues, especially among the youth. One of the major reasons behind the disturbingly increasing numbers in mental health issues is the social stigma that results in a sheer lack of medical support and related amenities.

This year, let us start debunking the misconceptions surrounding mental health and its treatment. Here are some popular myths to cast away:

Myth #1 – Most of the young people make up stories about their mental conditions, to escape from their responsibilities.

Fact – Anxiety disorders, depression and other forms of mental health conditions are not made up stories. We need to accept the fact that mental health is as important as physical health and pay attention to the same. Due course of treatment will help the person who has been affected.

Myth #2 – Mental health conditions can only arise from difficult socio-economic situations, like poverty and institutional struggles.

Fact – A person’s mind can be affected by a million things. It is a common misconception that only people from lower socio-economic classes can contract mental health issues, due to their past experiences. Even people from rich and affluent backgrounds can contract mental health conditions, owing to factors that can be investigated only when the patients have access to aid and care.

Myth #3 – There must be a concrete reason behind a person being depressed.

Fact – As much as we are aware of the grammatical implication of the word ‘depressed’, there is a medical connotation too. In medical terms, a person need not be depressed as a result of something in particular. Depression is a condition in which a person experiences severe despondency and dejection. It is not the same as feeling sad. Such a condition calls for immediate medical and therapeutic attention.

WHO estimated the availability of just 0.3 psychiatrists, 0.12 nurses, 0.07 psychologists, and 0.07 social workers, per 100,000 people in the country.

Myth #4 – People with mental health illness cannot do regular jobs.

Fact – People with mental health conditions, all over the world, are seen to be good and efficient workers. What they need are society’s support and timely treatment.

Myth #5 – Mental health issues are for adults. Children seem to be too dramatic about their emotions.

Fact – Mental health, just like physical health, is something that should be kept under constant speculation, among people of all age groups. Children find it even more difficult to open up freely, about their feelings and problems. If we make them feel that they are merely imagining things or are being unnecessarily dramatic, they will keep suffering in silence. We must pay attention to every person who talks about their mental health, in order to make them feel like they are not alone. 

Myth #6 – People with mental health issues are not capable of being involved socially.

Fact – Mental health conditions have no relation to a person’s character or sociability. The people suffering from mental illnesses are stigmatised by the larger society, to such an extent that it makes them feel unworthy, inferior and lonely. With supportive friends, families and partners, people with mental health issues feel much more relaxed.

With such myths leading to an all-encompassing social stigma, mental health issues among people often go unnoticed. In India, the stigma is so widespread that there are very few practitioners for mental health issues apart from the meagre number of patients who show up. WHO estimated the availability of just 0.3 psychiatrists, 0.12 nurses, 0.07 psychologists, and 0.07 social workers, per 100,000 people in the country. Approximately 6.5% of the total population suffers from mental health conditions.

In order to make the society a healthier place to live in, mental health must be recognised and treated, with due respect. It is high time that we shun the stigma.

If not now, when?

Also Read: Let’s Talk About Depression: A Personal Narrative

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