Destigmatize mental illness- promote active interventions to prevent suicide

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according to NIMHANS, there are about 150 million people in India who suffer from mental health issues.

Out of all these, only 1 in 5 people in India get treated. Mental health is an integral part of health and the current mental healthcare system does not do complete justice to the increasing burden of poor mental health.

India has a shortage of mental healthcare services, as  there are only 5000 to 7000 psychiatrists which is clearly insufficient to cater to the high number of sufferers.

When mental illness is caused chemically, medication and electro-convulsive therapy is required, otherwise there is a need for intensive psychotherapy.      

 It can't be ignored that substantially many people are tormented everyday without getting the appropriate care and emotional support they deserve.

Any mental illness, be it anxiety or other fatally severe illnesses such as schizophrenia, clinical depression,  a post traumatic stress disorder, etc deserves complete recognition and honour for its survivors. Yet many survivors stay unheard of. 

Personally,  I've had to see a 9 year old child struggle with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) looking up the "5 easiest ways to kill yourself" and some others struggle alike. So mental illness is extremely important to wait for action. It has to be immediate to boost resilience in those who suffer.

Even worse,  you must have seen how a mentally challenged person is mocked and judged  being difficult or given tags such as 'crazy' 'mad' or otherwise, "take him/her to the mental hospital"

This kind of stigma that is virtually everywhere, is unjust  to those who are tormented everyday by serious mental suffering. 

 I have dealt with it myself and from that experience, I've come to believe that greater awareness for an improved mental healthcare system  is necessary for survival through mental illness. Mental health is undeniably, still very misunderstood.

During one instance,  a loved one had called a known suicide prevention helpline in India. She called 2-3 times but there was no response.  In the heat of that moment,  for her it was a matter of life and death like it would be for any suicidal person.  If it weren't for her luck,  then maybe she wouldn't survive. 

Although help is available, the problem is that many are unable to access that help due to the underlying stigma and poor awareness. Poverty keeps many from seeking help as well. It hits the impoverished  even harder. 

Suicide helplines in the country must be more concerned and active in taking calls. Dismissing a call is just a sign of ignorance and apathy towards a life. Every life does and should matter.

Warranting information campaigns to promote more active interventions is just as important to protect the lives of all our survivors. A streamlined access of resources including psychiatrists, rehab centres, support groups and intervention clinics should be enhanced. 

Schools and colleges should be encouraged to have improved mental health care facilities, as teenage suicides are no less common. It is often teenagers who today desperately stand in need of it,  due to academic pressure and other socio- psychological factors. 

Helplessness, vulnerability, chronic anxiety,  numbness,  withdrawal and suicidal thoughts are some of the common symptoms faced by those who struggle with mental disorders.  

Anyone considering to take their own life is not something you joke about.  Everyone must be taught about the warning signs of suicide through active awareness campaigns.  When suicides can be prevented, why are we letting some of our people lose their lives to something that can prevented and cured? 

When mental health issues come to better light,  many more lives can be saved from serious yet treatable mental disorders. For that a more effective measure to address a serious issue like mental health is paramount. Time is absolutely up on taking any life for granted.

 



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