Speak Up!

Speak Up!

Our society is discreet about so many things. Mental health is surely one of them. There are so many families, workmates, and friends who suffer in silence because of this denial. We have no hiccups talking about a broken limb but when it comes to a ‘broken heart’ we suddenly become guarded. Why are we so ashamed of opening up? We all experience highs and lows, don’t we?

I believe the first step towards solving any problem is to acknowledge it. Yes, India has a large number of mentally ill people. And all of us are equally vulnerable to mental health problems. It’s high time, we start taking cognizance of these problems. We can save so many lives by simply ‘acknowledging’ the problem- Our society is discreet about so many things. Mental health is surely one of them. There are so many families, workmates, and friends who suffer in silence because of this denial. We have no hiccups talking about a broken limb but when it comes to a ‘broken heart’ we suddenly become guarded. Why are we so ashamed of opening up? We all experience highs and lows, don’t we?

I believe the first step towards solving any problem is to acknowledge it. Yes, India has a large number of mentally ill people. And all of us are equally vulnerable to mental health problems. It’s high time, we start taking cognizance of these problems. We can save so many lives by simply ‘acknowledging’ the problem- IT EXISTS.

The next step is to move forward and do something about the problem. There are so many myths related to mental health problems. Our efforts can go a long way in helping those who ‘suffer’. You might be wondering how? Here are some simple yet potent tips:

End the Stigma: There is so much stigma attached to mental illnesses. There is a dire need to destigmatize mental illness. In a survey of 3,556 respondents from eight cities across India, a staggering 47% could be categorized as being highly judgmental of people perceived as having a mental illness, according to non-profit The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF). Being open to mental health can break down any negative notions surrounding it. Easier said than done, of course.

Use Reassuring Words:
 Words are powerful! Don’t we get inspired by speeches? NO, we don’t have to be prolific at public speaking in order to do this. Simple reassuring words like- “I understand you are feeling low today. We all go through these ups and downs.”- can make a big difference.

Talk it Out: Talking to someone when we are in distress, actually helps us release those pent-up emotions. We really don’t have to be an expert to listen and to talk. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear. Reach out, support people, talk about your emotions and get comfortable with them.
Humor Helps: Humor, some say, is the best medicine for the brain.Laughter helps to clear those blocked channels in the brain. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. We already know this. But, are we practicing it?

Seeking Expert Help: There is no harm in seeking expert help if the need arises. Don’t we seek professional help for a broken limb? In the same manner we need to seek expert/professional help for mental health issues too.

Sharing our Stories with Others: Sometimes when we read a story, we feel that the entire universe is going through this. We realize that we are not alone; there are others in the same boat and we suddenly feel connected with the universe. We don’t feel alone!

In the end, I just want to say, “Don’t worry be happy.” Spread love, spread positivity, listen and stay connected. Hugs, the ‘Jaadu ki jhappi’ help us secrete those happy hormones…Go ahead and create some magic. Step Up!

Written by: Minakshi Dewan

Minakshi Dewan holds a doctoral degree from the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has worked with various NGOs after completing her master’s degree from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has authored a picture book for children. She is also an expert blogger with Momspresso.