Mental illness biggest health
risk by 2010, but who cares?
Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Do you get panic attacks every time you
are in a chaotic situation? Do you have an obsession to do
something repeatedly, like pulling out strands of hair while
concentrating on work? Both of these, quite often ignored
by most of people, are mild forms of mental illness - which
is set to become the number one health risk in India by 2010,
a new report says.
to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which released
a report last month on mental health, morbidity on account
of mental illness is all set to take over from cardiovascular
diseases as the number one health risk in India in the next
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS)
further says that over 20 million Indians suffer from serious
mental ailments and 50 million more from milder forms.
a shocking 70 million people suffer from mental ailments and
yet, 50-90 percent of them are not able to access corrective
services. Awareness of mental health, experts say, is just
illness may become the biggest health risk in the next two
years, but the awareness is still not there. The stigma attached
to mental illness is so great that people just refuse to address
the problem," Praveen Thapar, chairperson of the Sanjivini
Center for Mental Health, told IANS.
instead of addressing such problems like panic attacks, depression,
obsessive behaviour or hysteria - which are mild forms of
mental illnesses - Thapar said that people just ignore them.
danger of this kind of attitude is that things can sometimes
get out of your hand. Therefore, address it when you can,"
said Thapar, who is also a counsellor at Sanjivini that specializes
in emotional crisis-interventions (email@example.com).
Sen (name changed), a 30-year-old, for instance, visited his
doctor nearly 10 times last month. The reason? Every time
he is in a chaotic situation on the road, he gets a panic
attack and calls home, saying that he is unwell and needs
to be taken to the hospital.
his family believed him and thought that he must be really
suffering from some disease. But every time the reports were
negative. Three months later, he realized he needed help to
get over his panic attacks.
he finally decided that he needed counseling, we unearthed
that this was an offshoot of a difficult childhood, of an
alcoholic father and a strict mother. He is now coping well
with it," Thapar said.
when does one realise that one needs help? Psychologist Akhila
Srivastava explained with an example.
sad and depressed over a particular incident for a few days
or weeks is natural. But if the feeling of depression, of
not wanting to meet people or losing appetite, continues for
more than three to six weeks, and talking to friends and family
has not helped, then you need professional help," Srivastava
about the rising number of suicides among youngsters, mostly
in the metros, the experts said that more than youth, it is
their parents who need counselling.
have to learn not to push their children too much. It is a
very competitive world as it is. If a child is brought up
in an atmosphere where he is allowed to develop his talents,
instead of being pushed into doing something he is not interested
in, he will not only excel but also learn how to handle stress
because there is a fallback system," Thapar maintained.
95 percent of the cases of adolescence stress, it is an issue
of the parents and not the child itself," she added.
although the experts admit that a rising number of people
are seeking professional help to handle stress in this increasingly
competitive world, they say problems like alcoholism and depression
are also escalating, making mental wellness even more important.
Rahman can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)