India’s Great Medical Challenge: Talking About Mental Health

The pandemic has shown that mental health issues affect people across the country, including rural areas.

Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya,Dr. Pratima Murthy

If there is one learning from the pandemic of a century ago, it is that India needs to prepare for mental health challenges in the years ahead

Infections and illnesses are usually wrongly associated only with physical illnesses. The point is, every episode of physical illness has mental health elements. During the covid19 pandemic, with each increase in infections and new waves, mental health problems have increased.

Prior to the pandemic, the 2015 National Mental Health Survey16 found that 12% of India’s population suffered from some form of mental health problem. Most of these conditions are mild, but 2% of the population have mental health problems that require regular treatment. The impact of the pandemic on mental health was probably greater than the incidents of physical illness. In addition to those who have tested positive for covid19, fear of the virus, uncertainties and apprehensions among all, the illness and death of loved ones, reduced sources of income, the cost of treatments and many other factors have had an impact on everyone’s mind. health. A study published in the journal The Lancet reported that by 2020, ionic depression and anxiety disorders increased by around 25% globally and by 35% in India.

In 2021, hospitals and healthcare professionals across India reported an increase in the number of people seeking advice and requiring inpatient treatment for mental health issues. We have personally observed this increase in our medical practice.The cases included the reappearance of old problems and new illnesses, ranging from very mild to severe conditions. With the emergence of Omicron, there are new stresses, dread and anxiety among people. How are we responding to the mental health challenge? The short answer: at the individual level, raise awareness of various aspects of mental health and make a commitment to self-care. At the social level, introduce concrete political interventions to increase access to mental health services. Remember that self-care is not selfish, but it is the right approach. Remember, if you are mentally healthy and calm and collected, you are likely to be more productive in your personal life and be able to be an effective caregiver for others. of us should be aware of the warning signs of mental health.

For example, anxiety and depression are common mental health issues.In both cases, changes in sleeping and eating habits provide important early clues. Sleeping excessively or not being able to sleep waking up at odd hours of the night and then not being able to sleep; overeating or not wanting to eat, all of these factors should give cause for concern. Other common warning signs related to mental health are loss of interest in a previously enjoyable activity, difficulty concentrating, repeated negative thoughts, persistent and overwhelming sadness that lasts throughout the day, and persistent depression in levels. of energy. If one or more of these symptoms last 10 days or more, it is advisable to consult a healthcare practitioner. Feelings and thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness can be a harbinger of suicidal thoughts and attempts and should be taken seriously and professional help should be sought immediately. Prevention is better than cure is an adage applicable to physical and mental health. Everything that is good for physical health is good for mental health and vice versa.

Regular exercise or physical activity, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and getting enough hours of sleep all help fight and reduce stress. Limit screen time; doing pranayama, yoga, and any form of meditation, and keeping in touch with family and friends are other proven health prevention approaches. We must make proactive efforts to deal with stressful situations.One of the subgroups that has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic are parents and children. Parents, especially women, had additional responsibilities as caretakers of children who were at home when schools were closed. It was stressful for both of us. Children often receive emotional signals from adults, mainly parents and teachers, so it is essential that adults deal with their emotions well. Parents should be calm and proactive in conversing with children.

Children and teens should be encouraged to talk about their feelings and to talk to trusted family members and friends. Among all the challenges associated with the pandemic, there are some bright spots. First, people are more open to discussing mental health issues. Second, the stigma traditionally associated with mental health problems and seeking treatment has diminished. It’s time to dispel the myths that mental health issues are an urban phenomenon or a big city phenomenon.The pandemic has shown that mental health issues affect people across the country, including small towns and rural areas. In the absence of discussions on mental health, the burden has not been fully recognized. Back to basics It is also an opportunity to reflect on certain bases

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