The more things are supposed to change the more they remain the same. The covid-19 pandemic, unfortunately, added a toll on mental health.
Public health experts have repeatedly said that there is manifold increase in mental health cases amid the virulent disease with many attributing the rising stress and anxiety levels to isolation, loss of loved ones, economic uncertainty and the fear of contracting the disease.
As per an expert, nearly half of patients do not have any history of mental illness and despite the lifting of lockdowns; the number of cases remained largely the same.
Without a doubt, the lives have got disrupted, livelihoods of the people hurt, or even destroyed due to the pandemic. As a consequence, evidently, there is anxiety, fear, stress, and trauma.
The pandemic has surely aggravated the situation, leaving those having such issues to struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from what is basically and undeniable a disease which to a large extent is curable. What makes the challenge more difficult is stereotypes and prejudice such people face purely as a result from misconceptions about mental illness. As a result, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life—good jobs, satisfactory health care, and association with a diverse group of people.
The people having mental illness not only face the public stigma which is the reaction that the general population has towards them but also self-stigma which is defined as prejudice which they turn against themselves.
Unless services are available, addressing the mental issues would remain distant.
Let alone Jammu and Kashmir, all states and UTs across India spends little on mental health care. Against World Health Organization norms, the mental health personnel are paltry to say the least.
There are structural shortcomings that need finances and infrastructure to overcome. There are also immediate needs that are to be addressed on various fronts within a reasonable dispatch. The government needs to be responsible, considerate and humane in dealing with mental health issues. Several ways can be worked out but for present the facilities for treatment, for those under deep stress, need to be upgraded without delay. The people also need do away with stigmatising mental health with labels and taboos. Also, importantly there is a need to understand how mental health issues get aggravated by the lack of empathy and lack of awareness in society.