The Rising Incidence of Mental Health Issues
For how long can we sweep it under the carpet? In need of power-packed performance, surrounded by judgmental eyes, it is okay to have a meltdown
It was Susan Sontag the famous American writer & philosopher who said, “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, at times we are obliged – at least for a spell – to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”
Mental illness is rather different from physical ailments, why?
When we are down with fever we call the doctor immediately and seek medical advice. But are we as proactive if sadness persists? We probably let it linger till such time there’s a gross abnormity in outwardly manifestation in behaviour. Most employers don’t bat an eyelid if a high-performing employee has diabetes which we all know is a silent killer. If the disease isn’t adversely impacting productivity & efficiency, they usually don’t interfere – other than the periodic lecturing on wellness.
Need to Accept
That’s not the case with mental illness. The level of acceptance – by the afflicted individual and her surroundings – is substantially lower. Despite the heightened levels of awareness drive, the taboo angle persists. Under these circumstances, it’s highly commendable that a superstar like Virat Kohli has come out in the open (recently) and addressed on mental health issues, as did Deepika Padukone a few years back. The levels at which they operate resemble a bloodied ocean, and it’s very difficult to talk from one’s personal experience.
There’s a surfeit of information available on the dos & don’ts, yet people get diabetes – if anything, India ranks the highest. But they live with it and families aren’t devastated either. Is it possible to look at mental health issues in a similar manner? It’s a whole range and in many cases, the individual can remain functional – if as a society we let them – during the course of treatment and most certainly afterwards.
In our pursuit of excellence or even consumerism, that’s the price we have to pay.
Let’s accept the fact that stress levels have gone out of whack and it will only worsen, resulting in many more broken souls.
There’s a strong likelihood that mental health issues will take epidemic proportions and as individuals we are powerless. Beyond a threshold, we are all fragile.
Kingdom But, perhaps as society, we are not, if we choose to be a little more accommodative.
This opinion piece was first published in the print version of SUBURB December 2019 issue.