Mental health: Let’s pay heed

We celebrated World Mental Health Day on 10th October. First observed in 1992 as an annual activity of World Federation for Mental Health, the day was aimed at raising awareness and spreading education about mental health issues across the globe. In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the important role mental health plays in achieving global development goals. The same is evident by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals. We all know about the pandemic-induced stress viz. coping with the new normal, work from home situation, healthcare anxiety, pressure to perform and seeking work-life balance. Inevitably, all this has taken a toll on our mental and emotional well-being.

A new Lancet study confirms major depressive and anxiety disorders have increased substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In India, psychological disorders saw an increase of 35%, the study noted.

World Mental Heath Day is a reminder to take a pause from our busy routines and pay heed to mental health – one of the most neglected health aspects. It is also a reminder for us to empathise, hear and help those in need around, and importantly, remove the stigma around mental health and normalise conversations on such issues.

While there is a gargantuan canvas of social media to express our joys and show the bright colours of life, sadly there isn’t much room to show our lows – which in fact, is more important! The irony of today’s age is despite being connected to everyone, we are unable to reach out to anyone. Why can’t we, humans, talk about our weaknesses, express our lows or seek help? It’s time to ponder!

Author and life coach Jay Shetty says, "Empathy is not saying I know how you feel. Empathy is saying I want to know how you feel”. Mental peace is crucial to every human, and so, it is important to behave responsibly with ourselves as well as in our social circles. We should be aware of the impact our actions and words make on others. This further underlines the need to have genuine well- wishers, friends, family – to have someone to share your most inner rooted insecurities, threats and feelings.

While there has been much preaching on what life should be like and each one pursues it in his/ her own way, no one really teaches us how to live it. We need to believe in ourselves, especially when the odds are aplenty. It is important to break the bubble of negative thoughts and find hope and a reason to live because no matter how bad a phase is, it is going to pass – we all have experienced it and have come out of it.

Further, we must always remember and reiterate to ourselves that "I am my companion first and foremost". Only you have known yourself from ever – all your struggles, pains, sufferings – you have experienced it firsthand. There are so many battles that only you know you have fought and won. While we talk about commitments in all kinds of relationships, we often forget about the commitment to ourselves. Sometimes, it’s only you who can help yourself. We need to be our own saviours, own counsellors – test what works for you and what doesn't, breathe deeply, be patient with yourself. Invest in yourself, prioritise, accept and love yourself, realise your self-worth.

At times, it’s extremely crucial to pull yourself out of the drudgery of thoughts, obsession with irrational ideas or those beyond your control. I know it’s easy said than done. Today’s testing times call for resilience. We need to train our minds and self to react to adversities in a positive and sustained way. You will only emerge stronger!

Remember this- ‘The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end of the book.

– Priyanka Sarode
(Corporate Communications)

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