How can we work for better mental health as a society?

Proximity bias, psychological integrity, toxic positivity – these terms were unknown to the average Indian a few years ago. Thanks to social media and the growing discourse around mental health during the pandemic, more people today are aware of these terms and the importance associated with mental health than ever before. Whether we’re talking about complex terms like this, or common but still stigmatized — disorders like depression, anxiety and burnout, more companies are realizing the importance of prioritizing the mental health of their employees.

Everyone has a body and mind to take care of. Discussions about mental health can help realize that they are not alone. Although discussions of mental health are becoming more common and accepted than before, we are still in the process of removing the stigma associated with it.

a november 2020 study showed that only 7.3% of Indian youth reported mental health problems, while the global average was 20%. Does this mean that young Indians only face a third of the mental problems of their global peers?

More than 30% of young people in India show poor knowledge of mental health and show a negative attitude towards people with mental health problems. In fact, one in five children exhibited intentional, stigmatizing behavior towards mental health. Thus, people with mental health issues tend to suffer from a double-edged sword – apart from being victims of discrimination and even violence, they are often seen as dangerous and irresponsible.

Things are not bleak as there is light at the end of the tunnel. a Follow-up study 2021 As of 2018, it was found that 77% and 65% of respondents were aware of depression and stress, respectively, while 50% were aware of mood swings. More than twice as many respondents (65%) now believe that individuals with mental illness can take on responsibilities, up from 32% in 2018. One of the best indicators of the country’s awareness of mental health is that 92% of respondents said they would be supportive of mental health treatment, versus 54% in 2018.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in mental health cases – due to the unprecedented proximity to death, the isolation caused by frequent lockdowns, working from home, and disease all around us. This has played a part in broadening conversations about mental health; However, major issues related to diagnosis, treatment, and seeking help still need to be addressed.

What steps can be taken to further improve awareness about mental health, reduce the stigma around seeking help, and increase sensitivity towards those who may be suffering?

The need for the hour is to ensure a reliable and standardized system for monitoring the number of psychiatrists, as well as to create systems to address the huge variability in their availability. Across India, some states had a healthy number of doctors, while others showed stagnation or even a decline in mental healthcare professionals.

For a start, we can motivate more young people to enter the fields of psychiatry and clinical psychology. Currently, everyone has lakhs, just us She has 0.75 psychiatrists, far from the ideal number which should be between 3-5. It is also frustrating to learn that of the 25 million graduates annually, only 700 graduate as psychiatrists. As of 2019, we had a shortage of 27,000 doctors, and that number is likely to double in the past three years, given the effects of the pandemic.

Improving knowledge, attitudes and practices related to mental health requires comprehensive efforts from a wide range of actors in India. Interventions should focus on building an advanced understanding of mental illness, addressing ingrained traditional perceptions, and amplifying awareness regarding appropriate treatments. We cannot ignore the fact that there is a lack of access to treatment due to socio-economic conditions, while treatment can also be costly. Government and NGOs must prioritize access to mental health care – whether that is through telemedicine, subsidies, or improving availability.

Employers play an important role in getting to know and assist their employees. Since half of the world’s population is engaged in some kind of work, 15% of adults of working age suffer from some form of mental disorder, According to the World Health Organization. This creates a significant economic impact due to lower productivity and absenteeism. The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety will cost the global economy about $1 trillion each year.

A recent research paper has been published (May, 2022) Offers who – which Mental health initiatives in the workplace are on the rise. Companies have been exploring areas to adapt initiatives to promote mental well-being, improve healthy behaviors, emphasize work-life balance, and create peer support networks. Most of these initiatives were curative and advisory services, which limits the scope of treatment. Good mental health is not just the absence of diseases or disorders, it is about contentment, adjustment and confidence. Hence, interventions should take a preventive approach as much as a curative one.

It is crucial that mental health is a component of every organization and even the basic policies of the government. There is an urgent need to delve into a comprehensive treatment of mental health, to research in depth about risk factors, and to prioritize mental health interventions in the Indian context. A more proactive approach to mental health in the workplace is required, now more than ever, if we want a happy and healthy generation to change India.



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The opinions above are those of the author.



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