Mental Health Awarness

11th December, 2018


Mental well-being is a vital component of a person’s overall health condition. Therefore, it naturally follows that there should be adequate awareness about this topic in society.

Here are some alarming mental health facts which should make us sit up and take notice:
• According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study conducted for the National Care of Medical Health (NCMH), at least 6.5 per cent of our country’s population suffers from some form of serious mental disorder. That means about 65 million Indians
• 50 per cent of all the mental health conditions begin by the age of 14 years and most of these go undetected or untreated.
• India has only about 5000 psychiatrists and less than 2000 clinical psychologists to cater to its entire population.
• A 2015-15 NCMH survey revealed that one in every six persons in our country requires some kind of mental help.
• India has the highest suicide rate in the world in the age group of 15-29. Every 3 seconds, a person commits suicide.

The above facts are undoubtedly shocking, but what adds to the gravity of the situation is that even today, mental illness is considered a taboo by a considerable portion of the population and there is a widespread stigma associated with the topic, although the awareness is increasing amongst the people. However, raising awareness is only the start of the battle against mental illnesses. Let’s take the first step towards it.


What exactly is mental illness?

A mental illness is a physical condition of the brain which results in disturbances in thinking, emotional stability and behaviour which adversely affects the daily life. There are many causes for mental disorders, including abnormalities in the brain structure, genetics, brain structure, trauma or any other underlying medical condition, such as heart condition.

Some of the common mental conditions are:
• Anxiety Disorders
• Alzheimer’s Disease
• Attention Deficit Disorder
• Bipolar Disorder
• Epilepsy
• Munchausen’s Syndrome
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Schizophrenia

Anxiety Disorders: While feeling anxious every now and then is a part and parcel of life, anxiety disorders are different. They are a group of mental illnesses which occur constantly and are overwhelming. It prevents a person from leading a normal life. There are different types of anxiety

  1. Panic Disorder: The person experiences terror strikes out of the blue with no warning. He/she might experience sweating, chest pain and palpitations.
  2. Social Anxiety Disorder: The person feels abnormally self-conscious and constantly worries about being judged, embarrassed or ridiculed by others.
  3. Phobias: This includes specific phobias, or fears, such as fear of heights.
  4. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: You may experience an excessive, unrealistic worry for no
  5. reason.

Alzheimer’s Disease: It is a common form of dementia in which a person experiences varying degrees of memory loss and other cognitive disabilities. Its effects include behavioural changes, confusion, disorientation, delusions, hallucinations, difficulties in communicating and judging speeds and distances, and more. Its severity increases with age.

Attention Deficit Disorder: This brain disorder is characterized by a continuous pattern of inattention that interferes with normal functioning and development. A person suffering from ADD has difficulty in sustaining focus, lacks persistence and is disorganized, and not due to lack of comprehension or defiant behaviour. Such people tend to miss details, make careless mistakes, lose focus quickly, tend to be easily distracted, are forgetful and tend to avoid sustained mental effort.

Bipolar Disorder: Also known as manic depression, this involves extreme mood swings. The elevated mood is called mania. During the opposite phase, i.e. depression, a person can experience utter hopelessness, deep sadness, loss of energy and enthusiasm, lack of interest, erratic sleep patterns, and suicidal tendencies. Even though bipolar disorder involves periods where a person can feel depressed, it is not the same as depression. This is because, in a depression, the person always feels low and sad, whereas bipolar disorder is characterized by shifts in the mood.

Epilepsy: It is a chronic mental disorder which causes recurrent, unprovoked seizures. These seizures are sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain which occurs when the brain sends out wrong signals to the body. The seizure can occur due to unknown reasons, although it can be triggered due to injury to the brain, stroke, brain tumour, blood clots, alcohol and drug abuse. Inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain, lack of sleep, high fever and some vascular diseases can also cause epilepsy.

Munchausen’s Syndrome: This is a psychological disorder where a person pretends to be ill even when they’re perfectly fine and there’s nothing wrong with them. This stems from their need to assume the “sick role” and their desire to be the center of attention and have people care for them. The person may claim to see things or hear voices that aren’t there, pretend to have symptoms like chest pain or stomach ache and may even deliberately try to get ill by infecting their wounds.

Parkinson’s Disease: It is a condition in which certain regions of the brain become progressively damaged over a period of many years. It is a movement disorder in which a person can experience tremor in the hands, reduced sense of coordination, change in gait and posture while walking, loss of sense of smell, sleep issues and have a tendency to fall.

Schizophrenia: It is a long-term mental disorder involving delusions, hallucinations and other cognitive difficulties, which interfere with a person’s ability to think rationally, control emotions, decision-making etc. Contrary to popular public perception, schizophrenia does not relate to split personality. It can occur due to genetic causes, environmental factors and abnormalities in the brain.

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What can you do to help?


There are some tips to tackle mental illness which you can follow in order to feel better:
1. Be Positive: Try to promote your self-worth by inculcating feelings of positivity.
2. Physical activity: Regular exercise releases certain hormones known as endorphins which help
relieve stress and improve the mood.
3. Eat healthily: Ensure adequate nourishment and nutrition by eating healthy, balanced meals. Fruits
and vegetables, fish, nuts and flaxseed are some of the options.
4. Communicate: Talk to a close friend or relative to avoid bottling the negative feelings inside you.
This can also help you realize your self-worth.
5. Be helpful: Doing something good for others can help build self-esteem and enrich your life.

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