An open discussion on mental health

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On October 7, 2018, an open discussion was held in Geetanjali Hostel in sync with the Mental Health Day that is recognized on October 10 every year. A group of residents, including the warden, gathered over tea in the hostel premises to put forward their views, perspectives, and possible ways to overcome any issues and maintain health.

The conversation started with the concept of opening up, hovered over how mental health is still a taboo, and there is a fear in the masses of making any discussion related to this matter public. The reasons of taboo were discussed which may be religious affiliations, it being considered a permanent damage, and the fear of judgment that may arise on disclosure.

There are reservations of opening oneself to others with concerns over being admonished, especially in today’s time with the prevalence of social media and the scope of virtual reality. We have come to fear the thoughts of the ones in our vicinity but are open to being free with a stranger, primarily because of the fear of judgment. There is a rise in the demand of privacy, so much that people have begun to distance themselves to avoid contacts in the real space. Due to an increase in introverted tendency or so people desire to say, face to face interactions are being lost, so is the art to do so., and our predilection about clash of personalities and opinion. In addition to this, another factor is to accomplish our need to find validation in others’ opinion, and looking for like-minded people, who we expect will understand us better. And because of this search of validation, we often forget to turn to the more truthful aspect, and possibly undesirable of a notion and fall into a trap of seeking benefits by way of a giving a favourable verdict to one’s call. It was thus considered that social media is a tool to be used extremely cautiously and wisely, as virtual reality might not be as it is portrayed.

Amidst discussion, a point that was raised was that though abundant in number now, going to a psychiatrist is dismissed because of certain reasons. Mental sickness being a talk of closed doors and hushed tones, high fees of sessions with a professional, discomfort in allowing someone to peep into minds, makes psychiatric centres a stigma and an unapproachable institution.

The discourse also delved into how more cases of depression are noted in women as compared to men. The possible reasons cited were higher expectations and greater scrutiny towards women. The era that we are in, women are fighting to bring gender parity to the world. There is more onus on their shoulders, to carry their stereotypical roles as gracefully as breaking away from them. Thus they are constantly put under the lens, their actions dissected and analysed. This brings in the fear to tread carefully, and be mindful of their undertakings.

The sentiment about feminism and patriarchy took the foreground for a while, with various points of view coming to assess the role of these two institutions in affecting the psychiatric state of a person. Though patriarchy is held accountable in part for a person’s mental state, by typecasting the roles of men and women, thus binding them in a pigeonhole of socially acceptable duties; it may actually be the patrilineal way of society that should be held accountable. The gender equality efforts of Sweden were brought up, informing about the high percentage of women in their workforce, their rules to use more gender neutral terminology, and disregard of gender bias.

Thus, bringing evenness between the two sexes is a necessity, but it doesn’t mean women have to do all jobs that men do. By virtue of differences in the physiology of male and female body, some tasks are better divided between the two, keeping in mind that the two should be able to make their decisions at par with each other, and at par with the bounds of their bodies.

Reverting to the old course, the circle got to knowing each other’s ways of recuperating with stress and solving problems. These included, probably most importantly, talking to someone you can trust and are comfortable with, expressing verbally or through art forms, writing it out, taking a series of steps to deal internally if enough strength is felt. Depression, the most common form of a mental illness, can be general or clinical. Based on how it is, there can be various ways to overcome it- by going to clinicians and doctors, or by taking a positive outlook to life. But the essence to freeing up yourself is by letting go.

Thus the discussion concluded by making a consensus on adopting positivity and becoming a harbinger of goodness.

contributed by Shruti Khanna

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