Today is World Mental Health Day, and it’s days like these that garner global attention on a topic that deserves every bit of it. A topic that was once stigmatized has now become increasingly relevant, with people from all walks of life coming forward to share their experiences, and others encouraging an open discussion.
A WHO report shows that 7.5% of the Indian population suffers from serious mental disorders, 56 million suffer from depression, and 38 million suffer from anxiety disorders. If these statistics are anything to go by, they’re definitely alarming. We spoke to Dr. Sapna Bangar, Specialist, Child & Adolescent at MPower about mental health issues, its impact on today’s youth and seeking professional help –
What has contributed to the rising number of suicide cases in India?
India is changing as a society leading to changes in the norms and social structure. Globalization leads to a change in roles and expectations. The generation and cultural gap is increasing. We are becoming a more stressful, competitive and performance-oriented society. Like it or not the access to technology and internet leads to information being readily available leading to more demands and risks. The access to information and means are more easily available.
Why do you think anxiety and depression is on the rise among the youth?
There are various factors responsible for this. The problems that the youth face like cyberbullying, social media perceptions, easy access to information leading to feeling left out, instant gratification and lack of distress tolerance capacity.
How to detect the early signs of mental health issues?
Crying excessively, spending a lot of time by themselves, becoming more withdrawn, not enjoying activities that they were interested in before, not sleeping at night, increased anxiety, change in personality, academic deterioration and illicit substance use are all warning signs to keep in mind
Many of the youth shy away from getting the help they need because of the stigma associated with going to a professional. How can we support and encourage such youth?
Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression in early adolescence often go undiagnosed and untreated, due to limited access to psychological and psychiatric services and substantial social stigma attached to mental health issues. Many times, symptoms are perceived to be ‘just a phase’ or general moodiness that teenagers sometimes are known to show. However early intervention is the key to early recovery and better outcomes. Responsible adults like parents, teachers or family members should encourage children to seek help and support them
What is your advice to someone in a difficult mental space?
There is help available and there is always hope of change even if it is sometimes difficult to envision that it is possible. Seek professional help at the earliest.
We encourage everyone to lead a more self-aware life, and if you know of any loved one who needs help, here are a few hotlines they can call –
MPOWER, Mumbai – 23828133
COOJ, Goa – +918322252525
1 life, Hyderabad – 7893078930
Connecting India – 18002094353
Childline India – 1098