Of late, there has been increase in mental illness. While pandemic added to woes, people have been struggling with mental health crisis even prior to it. For most people, distraction has always been one of the key ways to neglect anxiety and depression. But free time spent in isolation changed everything and pushed people virtually to the edge. However much of it remains unknown because to this date, there is little to no awareness about mental illness. It is also a fact that 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 the prejudice which they turn against themselves. Unless extensive services are available, addressing the mental issues would remain distant.
As per World Health Organization, 10-20 per of children and adolescents experience mental health conditions, but a majority of them do not seek help or receive care. Half of all mental health conditions start at age 14. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19 year-olds. Additionally, the findings of the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 revealed that nearly 9.8 million young Indians aged between 13-17 years are in need of active interventions. These figures are alarming to say the least. But owing to the lack of discourse around mental well-being and the dread of experiencing bullying and stigma, it is additionally hard for the youth to open up and share what they might be going through. Moreover, in small towns across India, it is equally difficult to find proper resources or a psychologist. Let alone Jammu and Kashmir, all states and UTs across India spend little on mental health care. Against World Health Organization norms, the mental health personnel remains 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.
There is also a requirement of developing need-based interventions with proper risk communication strategies.
Parents also need to put in an extra step in creating a safe space at home for their wards. Elderly also need care. It is important to be sensitive, to normalize mental illness and create safe spaces. These are the subtle, yet bold and impactful means of starting a conversation.