Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Seek help if you must. Help others when you can
We are living in troubled times. The Coronavirus-induced lockdown and the subsequent economic distress caused due to it has led to bank accounts being drained and previously high-flying careers falling down in the dumps. The emergence of social distancing has meant that for several people, their highly interactive and gregarious life has come to a crashing halt. It is understandable that such a sudden pause, whether it is of incomes or social life, can lead to mental health issues and, thus, suicides and other forms of self-harm. Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s tragic death isn’t the first self-inflicted one of a celebrity during the lockdown. His passing away though is by far and away the most high-profile. It is impossible to know which demons in his head made him take such a step but one should be grateful not just for his career but also that in death, he has shone a light on mental health.
Unfortunately, in India, as a society, we have ignored the perils of poor mental health for far too long. The societal stigma associated with this disorder is overbearing. This makes it impossible for people, particularly those in high-profile industries such as the entertainment industry, to see a doctor as the rumour mill would go into overdrive. In this respect, India fares a lot worse than Western countries, where visiting psychiatrists is an accepted fact of life even though that does not stop those looking to self-harm. To top it all, in India there’s a severe shortage of mental health professionals. But as parents, siblings, friends and colleagues, it is imperative for each and every one of us to keep an eye out on others. Unfortunately, we live in times when relationships have become extremely transactional, not just in the entertainment industry but in other fields as well. Cyber-bullying, too, is rampant on social media, which often drives those, who are not as strong as others, to thoughts of self-harm. Thus, technology companies, especially Facebook and Twitter, have a responsibility towards checking the menace of bullying. If we fall as a child, our parents are there to pick us up. The problem is that we will continue to fall as adults. It is contingent on each of us to pick up those who slip. We should hope that there are those who will help us if we fall as well. Beating up those, who ask for help, is not a solution. Encourage them to seek help and talk to those you can help.
(Courtesy: EDITORIAL – The Pioneer)