Mental Health: Why You Should Be Paying More Attention To Yours!

By Aayudh Pramanik

Photo: Jeremy Perkins

I am substantially certain, I would be speaking to a lot of you while writing this particular piece of – let’s perhaps call it awareness, shall we? If you have been locked inside your house for the past two years now, with no one to talk to, nothing to run to or distract yourself with when you get overwhelmed, other than maybe work of course but how far does that really go in doing what you intend to use it for, provided the trouble of travelling from one part of the city to the other has been cut out of the picture – you are right, that was indeed a rhetorical, and you already know your answer.

Now you are left with only one option, and that is to finally give in to your rather insolently intrusive thoughts and address them, something we have never been taught to do from our very childhoods because we have been told to think positively, shove “negative thoughts” away. It is the 21st  century and I don’t really know if an individual should really choose to keep living under a rock for much longer, especially when it comes to knowing about your own mental health – it is elemental in remaining to keep functioning properly amidst every other thing that is weighing you down in trying times like such. It is high time you knew that constantly telling  yourself to be positive and graciously neglecting everything going on in that mass of grey and white matter enclosed within your skull is called toxic positivity – yes of course there is a term for it – and shoving your not-so-positive thoughts away doesn’t really get rid of them, they are not excretory matter that your body can decide to chuck out whenever it decides it’s no longer in need of them.

They very much still linger around like unwelcome guests and affect you in ways you will never realise they can. They pile up and they are bound to cumulatively explode if they keep piling up for long. That manifests as unplanned, spontaneous paroxysms of emotion or uncalled for outbursts that you never knew you had in yourself. Think of it this way – perchance this analogy might help you visualise your mental health as a concept better. Take two cups in front of you, one labelled with your name and the other, with the name of a friend(it could be anyone that you talk to when you feel down or upset about something). Both cups have a certain amount of content that is representative of your mental capacity or condition.

Often, out of neglect and lack of awareness we forget to take care of the cups – the containers of our mental capacity – and they develop holes and cracks. As a result, the contents from inside start seeping out, and that is what we may call the deterioration of our mental health. You have to realise that notwithstanding what society has been teaching you all this while, your mental health is very similar to your physical health, which is why self medication or first aid may not work all the time. Sometimes, professionals need to step in. Since you were never taught that asking for help is completely okay, you turn to your friend for help, who ends up pouring their contents into your cup, without realising that the holes need plugging first, because your friend’s contents seep out along with the rest. Both your mental healths have deteriorated now and this cycle keeps continuing.

We need to destigmatise the concept of mental health and all the ways it affects the diurnal functioning of an individual. In a lot of cases, people stop going to therapy after the first experience which was, of course, unpleasant enough to drive them away. When you are physically ill, a lot of doctors may mistreat you and you might have to change doctors. Does that mean medication is not for you? It is the same with therapy. Therapy is for everyone, just every therapist may not be the right match for everyone. In fact, I believe that the whole concept of access to mental health facilities is a privilege in a world where it is so stigmatised, stereotyped and tabooed, whereas it should be mandatory for everyone at least for a duration in someone’s life provided the amount of mental health issues an individual can face in their lifetime owing to distinctly numerous stimuli.

A survey in 2020 reveals a steep rise in the number of adults reporting experiencing symptoms of mental health issues from 13% to 26% approximately. Prior to the pandemic 1 in 10 adults reported having anxiety/depressive symptoms (PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY ARE NOT SYNONYMOUS) and it rose to double after and during the Pandemic, to 1 in 5 adults. This only calls for further research into the field of mental health and more awareness and accessibility to it. It is very well known that suicide prevention helplines are absolutely useless, so maybe it is way safer and efficient to just be kinder to be people throughout and knowing how to give them space or being there for them while also taking care to not get too emotionally involved, so much so your own mental health takes a toll.

That sort of knowledge only comes through awareness about mental health which will not be possible unless people realise that it is something that is essential in the day to day life of a human being, just as much as physical health is. “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close.