New Delhi: As we mark October 10 as World Mental Health Day with the theme ‘Making Mental Health and Well-Being for All a Global Priority’, team Banega Swasth India speaks with Dr. Saurabh Mehrotra, Senior Consultant, Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta, Gurugram on how individuals can take care of their mental wellbeing.
1. As per the Lancet report published in 2019, approximately 200 million people in India are affected with mental disorders. And the irony is that the healthcare services in our country reach a minority of people, who require these services. One of the biggest problems that India faces today is lack of mental health literacy. There is still a lot of stigma associated with mental health disorders. People think going to a psychiatrist almost equates to being mad. They don’t realise that most of the psychological disorders occur to people who are as normal as anybody else. So, stigma plays a significant role in delaying in reaching out to services for mental disorders. And then there is problem of education and infrastructure. In India, there are a very few psychiatrist available, only a few thousands across the country and this number, unfortunately has not increased. The number of psychologist and the hospitals that provide mental health services are also less in number. Apart from that, a push from the Government in terms of policies and budgeting is required, so that in our country mental health is given a priority.
2. The definition of health as per World Health Organization states that good health is about physical, psychological and social wellbeing. So, it is the state of these three things in an individual and not just mere the absence of disease. So, psychological wellbeing needs to be present in people in order to be called healthy. There are little things on a day-to-day basis that we all can do to improve our mental health and these include:
a. Simple lifestyle changes: having a healthy diet and adequate hours of sleep. People who are sleep deprived are often irritable, anxious or even depressed.
b. Physical activity: Some kind of exercise is believed to be a mood alleviator. Exercise in any form helps improve our energy levels, attention, concentration and memory.
c. Meaningful engagement: People should have positive involvements and hobbies in place, things which relax our mind. It could be music for some people, creative art for others or cooking, gardening and dancing for some others. It is advised that everyone should spend some time on their favourite hobbies.
d. Social connection and ventilation: Sharing your thoughts and feelings with another person is the most important aspect of mental health. So, one needs to make sure that they have a good network of friends and family around them, whom they can speak to at any point of time. We all need to learn to invest time in our relationships.
3. What we have seen during and after the pandemic is the surge in mental health disorders. There is an increase in anxiety, depressive disorders. There has been a lot of grief experienced by people and it wouldn’t be unfair to say that with COVID-19 pandemic, mental health pandemic has also simultaneously existed.
4. What needs to be done at this point of time is that we need to raise awareness among people about mental health, what are the signs, symptoms, one should look out for and the services available, which one can reach out to. People should be explained that it is not a big deal that they are going for some kind of mental therapy.
5. Another important thing is the push for tele-consultation services. This will help in reaching out to maximum number of people, particularly those living in remote areas, who do not have access to mental health facilities.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.