“Are you crazy?” “You think too much!” “Why are you always so worried and anxious? Relax!” You might have heard or said these sentences at least once in your life without even realizing the social taboo attached to them. Mental health has always been a taboo topic in India, as we are taught to keep a lid on our emotions and feelings and focus instead on staying as normal as we can in front of other people. To bust the stigma around mental health, the month of May is celebrated as Mental Health Awareness Month around the world. Wondering what Mental Health Awareness Month is about? Read this blog to know all about why its celebrated, it’s importance as well as Mental Health Awareness Month in India.
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What is Mental Health Awareness Month in India?
The month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Month in India. This initiative was launched in the USA in 1949 to create awareness among people around mental health. However, mental health is not just an issue in the USA, it is a global issue and India is not far behind. Living in the millennial century, people still consider Mental Health a social taboo. Especially in a country like India where people don’t even have an idea about caring for their mind, Mental Health Awareness Month helps to bust myths around mental health and provides resources.
Mental Health Awareness Month 2021 Theme
The theme for last year was “#Tools2Thrive” and it will be the same for Mental Health Awareness Month 2021 as well. This theme is focused on finding practical ways to cope with stress and better their resilience regardless of their personal circumstances.
The importance of Mental Health Awareness has even increased in the midst of Covid-19 which has hit our physical as well as mental well-being. In India, the second wave of the pandemic brought extreme stress and panic and constant work pressure, life in lockdown and fear of catching the virus has affected our mental health in ways we can’t describe. It is even more difficult for those living away from their families. Thus, Mental Health Awareness has become the need of the hour to help individuals cope with their situation, find the best resources and utilise tips to ensure their mental well-being as well as of those around them.
When Do You Need to Reach Out for Help?
A person can be physically fit and look happy on the outside but might feel differently inside. All of us feel anxious, sad or depressed at one point or another and if such feelings continue for longer, they can huddle up into something bigger. When do you think is the best time to reach out for help? Well, here are some things you must know and if you feel like having any of these for a long time or know someone facing such issues, reach out to a mental health professional for help:
- Feeling low, sad, or down without any specific reason
- Not able to concentrate on work or often feeling confused
- Not wanting to participate in activities or not feel like meeting friends/family
- Not able to cope up with daily issues or stress
- Always worried about things
- Feeling scared or extreme guilt
- Problems associated with drugs/alcohol
- Changes in eating habits
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
Importance of Mental Health
Why are we always applying different face masks, trying out home remedies, or hitting the gym? To keep ourselves physically fit and healthy. Just like our physical health, you need to take care of your mind as well. Mental and physical health are interconnected and it is essential to ensure a balance between a healthy mind and a healthy body.
As we are living in an ever-changing digital era surrounded by a world pandemic, everyone is finding it difficult to carry out even the most normal tasks. The first step to fighting the taboo of mental health is to recognise that it’s okay to feel anxious, worried, overwhelmed or the infinite range of emotions our mind always feels. Once you give that acceptance to your mind, it will be easier to realise whether you can talk it out with a close friend or need a professional to help you.
Another important thing you must know is that mental health disorders have no age criteria. It’s just a myth that a person in his/her teens can not be suffering through mental illness or a person in his/her 80s is mentally fit. Mental Health is important at all stages of life. If a person neglects mental health issues, it may impact physical health. People neglecting mental health may want to isolate themselves, constant feelings of fear, social anxiety, and become addicted to drugs/alcohol. Mental health can affect the whole body, reason of chronic physical health problems, create issues in your relationships, disturb your work life. This is why, it is essential to openly talk about your mental health and identify when you need help.
Tips for Ensuring a Healthier Mind
We know that we are not mental health professionals but we have enlisted some useful self-care tips that can help you ensure a better mental well-being:
- Communication is the key to ensuring a healthier mind. It means that it is important to take time to check up on your loved ones, have fun chats with your special people and have heart-to-heart conversations with those you know will understand you.
- Mental health and nutrition are two sides of the same coin. The best tip to boost your mental health is to eat nutritious and healthy food. Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals can also make a person feel low.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Always stay connected to your friends and family. If you can’t physically reach them try to video call or at least give them a call to share the things you are going through. You will feel lighter after sharing your thoughts with someone.
- Alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited even when you are physically and mentally fit. These substances are not just harmful to your physical health, it also affects your mental health.
- You must have heard that working out or exercise is the best escape from reality. Working out and regular exercise will help you manage your stress and take your mind off things.
- Take some time out of your schedule to meditate or practice mindfulness in your regular routine. Staying stuck in the loop of past and future can also affect your mind so find ways to stay in the moment and make the most of it.
- Lastly, spend some time doing what you love. If dancing makes you happy take out time for your dancing session, if painting is relaxing your mind takes time for regular painting. Do what makes you happy is the ultimate tip to manage stress.
All mental illnesses can not be cured at home and professional guidance is needed. If you are going through the low phase of your life, on verge of a mental break down or simply need to talk about the things you are going through or facing, here are some reliable professional assistance you can seek:
Toll-Free Government Helpline
The government of India collaborated with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences launched a 24×7 toll-free helpline number for people facing mental health issues. You can call this toll-free helpline at 08046110007.
The 24×7 helpline number connects you with certified professional psychologist and, psychiatrists. It was launched as a collaboration between various NGOs, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and the government of Maharashtra. You can connect with them at 1800-120-820050.
Sneha was established to help individuals dealing with suicidal thoughts. Mental health counsellors are available 7 days a week from 10 AM to 10 PM. You can reach them at 044-24640050, 044-24640060.
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Mental Health in the Time of Covid-19
Covid – 19 has changed our lives completely. While we are finding joy in little things in this situation, everyone is still unsure about the future and this can lead to anxiety and depression. Here’s how you can manage your mental health during this global pandemic:
- It is important to have a routine for your day so whether you are working from home or attending online classes, try to stick to the same schedule, cook breakfast for yourself and dress up the way you feel like (PJs optional!)
- Gyms and parks may be shut but you can always work out at home. Find online workout videos or create your own unique exercise routines!
- Lockdown has forced us to maintain distance from friends, do not lose touch with them. Stay connected through social media, video calls, and daily chats.
- Mediation is your friend when it comes to managing stress. Try to meditate at least for 15 minutes daily. It will help you become more mindful and inculcate the qualities of kindness and compassion in you!
- While junk food might attract you but it is important to keep yourself fit and eat nutritious food. Try to cook at home and add more fruits, protein-rich food, superfoods, food items rich in vitamin C in your diet.
Celebrities Speaking Up for Mental Health Awareness
Deepika Padukone has never shied away from talking about her struggles with depression. She has always used her platform wisely to create awareness and encouraging others to talk about mental health as well.
Beyonce, the queen of the music industry has struggled with depression for years. Whether it was being bullied in school, struggling with depression after Destiny Child broke up, or facing anxiety. Beyonce overcame everything becoming a symbol of Girl Power and the most powerful woman in the music industry.
Selena Gomez is one of the most loved celebrities globally. She has faced depression and anxiety due to many reasons. Selena Gomez had cancel one of her concert tours because she was battling depression and unable to perform on stage physically. Selena Gomez has always been vocal about it and creating awareness at the international level about mental health.
In India, about 56 million people suffer from depression while 38 billion suffers from anxiety and these numbers are expected to extend by the year-end. Mental Health Awareness Month in India will help to create the needed awareness, ensure steps to cope with it and provide resources. As an individual, you can also do your bit, let us know in the comment section below how are you spreading awareness about mental health? For more awesome content, stay connected with Leverage Edu. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.