If Only People Treated Mental Health Problems Like Physical Issues

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If Only People Treated Mental Health Problems Like Physical Issues

(Five out of ten leading causes of disability around the world are mental health issues. As part of a series of articles leading up to World Health Day on 7 April, The Quint is focusing on raising awareness and mobilising support)

How do you describe a mental health issue?

This question was asked by Bengaluru-based NIMHANS, one of India’s top psychiatric hospitals, to all families whose relatives were admitted for treatment in 2013.

7 out of 10 of them thought it was just a low-phase which people cannot snap out of.

Mental health is way more complicated than that. The stigma attached to it is no secret. NIMHANS found that less than 10% of their patients say their family and friends are compassionate towards them.

It’s a shameful statistic, given that one in eight adolescents in India will experience some kind of a mental health issue before they turn 18.

Dr Anjali Chhabria, one of Mumbai’s top psychiatrists, says, this is mainly because of a complete lack of empathy and knowledge about mental health issues. Even in the digital age, most people don’t understand that being diagnosed with a mental health illness is not something in their control or a death sentence – just like meeting with an accident, or getting cancer is out of your control.

In a bid to highlight the conversation around psychiatric illnesses, we have designed pictures to tell you how people react to physical problems they can see versus an internal problem of the mind.

Take a look:


1. Physical Illness

Tell your co-workers you’re feel dizzy and uncomfortable, they might rush you to the ER thinking it’s a heart attack! (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Mental Illness

But tell them you’re depressed and they will dismiss it as a classic case of Monday blues! (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

2. Physical Illness

Your head hurts? Lucky for you! Tumours are covered in your insurance plan. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Mental Illness

But depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other mental health issues are not. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

3. Physical Illness

Because a physical problem is visible (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Mental Illness

Mental health patients report physical symptoms like muscle ache, joint pain, and stabbing sensations in the chest (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

4. Physical Illness

Because a long day at work is a legitimate excuse to miss a social gathering (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)
But anxiety and depression aren’t. In the course of your mental illness, some “friends” might ditch you and that is OK (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

5. Physical Illness

But just like food poisoning gets better with antibiotics – mental health too might require a medical intervention (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

Mental Illness

Counselling alone does not always help. Don’t fret, you will gradually wane out of these medicines and feel alright on your own (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

If you have a mental health problem, know that you are not alone.

These issues are so diverse and everyone experiences them differently. The way we talk about it can have a major impact on someone’s emotional health. Be kind, be empathetic.

If you want to talk about your mental health issue to a counsellor, call the helpline number 18602662345, it’s toll-free and managed by the Vandrevala Foundation, one of India’s most reputed NGOs for psychiatric ailments.

If you have a friend who is visibly anxious or depressed make them seek medical help. As a start, these helpline numbers will lend a ear to those in distress. (Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

(This article was first published on 10 October 2016. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark World Health Day on 7 April 2017.)

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