Carrying the burden of mental health as India lives in denial

Oct 21, 2021

Magnitude of Mental Health Problems in India

According to a WHO report, around 7.5 percent of the Indian population suffers from various types of mental disorders, and approximately 38 million Indians suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 56 million suffer from depression.

The number of psychiatrists in India is 9000 and counting, with 700 psychiatrists graduating every year. Hence, India has about 0.75 psychiatrists, far less than the desirable figures of three and above psychiatrists per 100,000 people, whereas the statistics notch up to 6 psychiatrists per 100,000 population in high-income countries.

However, if we go by the current scenario, taking three psychiatrists (per 100,000 population) as the sought-after number, India currently needs around 36,000 psychiatrists to fulfil their demand. India is presently short of 27,000 doctors based on the current population of the country.

A recent report titled “Global Wage Report 2020-21: Wages and Minimum Wages in the Time of COVID-19,” by the International Labour Organization indicates that most Indians work up to 48 hours a week. At the same time, their counterparts from China put in 46 hours a week, followed by Americans who work for 37 hours, and Britishers and Israeli nationals who account for 36 hours a week.

And, as Indians spend more time on work, it pushes them towards a mental health crisis and is a leading cause of 'unplanned time off.' WHO estimated an economic loss of US$ 1.03 trillion in India between 2012 to 2030 on account of mental health disorders as more and more Indians fall victim to 'unplanned time off.'

These statistics only provide an overview of the grim situation, but the data should be enough to frighten anybody. These soaring numbers are warning signs for India that we quickly need to take note of.

Stigma surrounding mental health in India

The stigma surrounding mental health has always been very prevalent in Indian society, leading to discrimination and prejudices. As a result, people with mental illnesses have often been subjected to pain, torture, and isolation. In addition, they have to deal with name-calling, such as 'lunatic' and 'crazy,' the painful and agonizing reality that pushes them further away.

Mental health is primarily one of those topics, Indians have refrained from talking, but now with increasing awareness, people have started coming out and talking about their personal experiences.

But, what exactly is mental health, and how does our brain process through it?

What is Mental health?

Mental health is an individual's state of mind, including emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mind plays a vital role in our overall health and wellness as it affects our thought processes and how we feel and act. WHO has defined health as the state of mental, physical, social well-being, and not the absence of illness. And, having stable mental health is equally essential for good physical health.

According to the WHO, mental disorders are characterised by a combination of abnormal thoughts, behaviours, perceptions, emotions, and relationships with others, resulting in the dysfunction of the biological, psychological, social, and occupational functioning of the affected persons and their family members. There are multiple causes for mental health issues, including genetic, social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental factors.

There are various types of mental illnesses such as depression, dementia, anxiety disorders, ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia that many people are dealing with. Mental health deterioration leads to unhappiness and lack of concentration and makes it even more challenging to stay motivated.

Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

India is faltering in raising the bar on mental health wellness, and these figures are not only astonishing but show that we are collectively struggling at this front. But there are plenty of ways you can help yourself.

Here are a few tips that might help you boost your mental health.

Be Social: Staying in touch with your friends and family is the way forward to good health. Share, speak yourself out, and it may prevent you from falling prey to mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders or depression.

Eat healthy, stay hydrated: Eating healthy and staying hydrated is equally important for your physical and mental health. In addition, eating good food in the right proportion and drinking enough water helps you lower your stress levels.

Stay positive: Always stay happy with yourself and be nice instead of criticising yourself. Confidence is the key to unlock yourself, keep your head held high, and move forward with positivity.

Exercise eases symptoms: Exercise not only improves your physical health but has a crucial role to play in your overall wellness. A good workout session can help boost your mood and reduce anxiety.

Sleep better: Often, lack of sleep leads to irritation and has significant consequences. Getting enough sleep helps you in having a good state of mind. Sleep allows your mind and body to recharge and function well throughout the day.

These tips can help you improve your state of mind, giving you the much-needed calm and composure. 

Maatri has been instrumental in helping many people through their mental health journey. Maatri connects you with eminent therapists and psychologists to help you guide through your healing process while patiently listening to you without judgment.