From the Viewsroom

Normalising mental well-being

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on September 03, 2020 Published on September 03, 2020

Bring mental health out of the closet, but sensitively

Prime-time discussions on television talking about suicide should have signalled a change for the better, in the sense that mental health was coming out of the closet.

It should have been a huge leap to help de-stigmatise living with depression, understanding the bipolar condition or planning support centres where people can reach out, when they needed counselling.

Instead, what was witnessed in the tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput was the lack of empathy with which the entire issue was handled. Personal insecurities and prescriptions of psychiatric medicines of the young actor have become public knowledge and fodder for many gossip channels that operate in the social media space, throwing all caution and confidentiality to the wind.

While the jury is out on the mysterious circumstances leading to the actor’s death, the chilling statistic from the World Health Organization is that one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. And for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Close to one billion people are living with a mental disorder, says the WHO. And Covid-19 has only further affected people’s mental health.

Mumbai-based helplines recount difficult instances of people reaching out for help. And the age group ranges from the elderly person worried about a younger family-member’s earning prospects in the time of a pandemic, to that of migrants calling from villages, worried about future employment in the city.

The government, too, has taken steps to try and destigmatise mental health by calling for an insurance cover, for instance. But there’s still much ground to cover to make people comfortable in getting their medicines reimbursed in such conditions or talking to a counsellor. The need clearly is for a lot more support and sensitivity in handling mental health issues, including suicide. Especially so, since it is not just an individual, but the entire family that gets affected, and for life.

PT Jyothi Datta Deputy Editor

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Published on September 03, 2020
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