A survey conducted by UNICEF in 21 countries revealed that only 41% of young Indians believed in approaching any intervention program for their mental health problems, whereas, the average among the other nations was 83.
There are already so many taboos and social stigmas in Indian society, not seeking help for mental health issues is just another fallout of such dogmas in the country. And when the future generation is so apprehensive about seeking help for their behavioral health problems, then it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The stigma associated with mental health issues is a concern almost all over the world and even the developed nations are no exception. Hence, for a developing nation like India, it can spell doom for the population if they are reluctant to go to an expert to seek help for any mental health condition.
In India, mental health disorders are looked upon as a lack of self-discipline and willpower. This stigma linked to mental health, a lack of access, affordability, and awareness lead to significant gaps in treatment among Indians.
Unaddressed mental health problems only exacerbate with time and create more problems for the patients and their families. What is more alarming is that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created additional problems and given rise to many mental health issues among people, especially the younger generation with so many insecurities tied to it.
Recently, UNICEF launched a global flagship publication — The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting, and caring for children’s mental health. The world body took cognizance of the perilous mental health of the children, adolescents, and caregivers in the 21st century.
“Children in India have been through a challenging time living through the risks and restrictions posed by the pandemic,” said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, India’s representative to the UNICEF in the report. “Nothing could have prepared them for the onslaught of the second pandemic wave that hit India earlier this year. Children witnessed suffering and uncertainties that no child should have to see. Being away from family, friends, classrooms, and play caused isolation and anxiety. Children have not only been living an emotional tragedy, but many are also at a higher risk of neglect and abuse”. What is known about the mental health conditions of the children is just the tip of the iceberg, says Dr. Haque.
The UNICEF report painted a grim picture of the country’s mental health state. It says, one in seven Indians is plagued by depression or has little interest in engaging in activities.
As per the (2015-16) National Mental Health Survey (NMHS), nearly 80% of those suffering from mental disorders did not receive treatment for over a year. This survey also found a huge treatment gap in mental healthcare, ranging from 28-83% across different mental disorders (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), 2016).
The impact of the pandemic, entering its third year, has also been immense on the children’s mental health. The lives of the young generation, especially the school and college-going kids are upended with a disruption to their normal routines—educational and recreational, creating a huge mental burden on them. The earning youngsters are also facing mental agonies due to insecurities related to jobs, family income, and uncertain health conditions. All these have left them infuriated and heavily stressed.
The children and adolescents in India living with mental health conditions go undiagnosed at most times as they hesitate to approach professional help. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50 million Indian children grappled with behavioral health issues in 2019, and the majority of them (80-90 percent) did not seek treatment.
Not only India, the whole of South Asia saw a spike in mental health conditions after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For a country like India, funding and budget allocation for mental health are also very important. The nation needs to look into various mental health conditions like autism, anxiety issues, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, eating disorders, conduct issues, depression, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia. These conditions can seriously hamper the younger generation’s health, education, earning capacities, and life outcomes.
So, any social stigma and regressive thinking will have to be dealt with sternness and people should understand that mental health conditions are just like any other physical ailment. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
The best way to deal with any mental health condition is to seek immediate professional help. If you or a loved one is suffering from any mental health condition, get in touch with Athena Behavioral Health.
We, at Athena Behavioral Health, provide quality treatment for all mental health disorders in India. We are among the best mental health treatment centers in the country offering world-class facilities and convenience to all our patients.
For further information, call us now on our 24/7 helpline number 9289086193 and get immediate assistance.