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“Pioneering a National Movement to Enhance Country Wellbeing”

India needs a mental health revolution through a movement like Swachh Bharat.

Introduction: With its economic parameters, India is rapidly emerging as the world’s fastest-growing major economy. It is a bright spot among the numerous conflicts and crises the world is witnessing. Take any area such as infrastructure, exports, foreign exchange reserves, the IT sector, FINTECH, renewal energy, and so on, and the country is making impressive progress all around. Amidst these positive sentiments, a question often arises whether India is equally doing well, if not bad, on subjective wellbeing, including mental health.

Unfortunately, all is not well with the nation’s wellbeing. An invisible, major crisis is brewing underneath. Millions of people, more from the younger generation, are badly suffering from mental health illnesses. If we do not intervene effectively and timely, the consequences will be huge. Government institutions and civil society are not aware of the depth and severity of this crisis.

The Current State of Mental Health in India: According to a study by the World Health Organization, nearly 15% of the global mental health conditions occur in India, and the prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders is particularly high. Despite these staggering figures, the 2016 National Mental Health Survey of India highlighted that close to 80% of those suffering from mental health issues do not receive treatment due to stigma and a lack of awareness.

India Needs a National Movement Like Swachh Bharat for Handling the Mental Health Crisis: India’s recent experience with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a highly impactful national campaign aimed at cleanliness and sanitation. The movement has shown the power of comprehensive public movements to bring about significant change. This initiative not only transformed public attitudes but also improved infrastructure across urban and rural areas. Taking inspiration from this, India now needs a similar national movement to address its burgeoning mental health crisis.

A nationwide campaign could effectively raise awareness, reduce stigma, and foster a culture that encourages seeking help and discussing mental health issues. Such a movement would promote a holistic approach, integrating mental health education, prevention strategies, and accessible treatment options into everyday life.

The urgency of this movement is clear, given the stark statistics highlighting the mental health challenges faced by Indians. With a global pandemic exacerbating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, a concerted effort akin to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan could be transformative.

Changing Scenario: Statistics reveal a pressing need for a robust mental health framework in India. Recent years have witnessed a significant shift in the perception and treatment of mental health in India. The rising awareness and diminishing stigma associated with mental health issues are pivotal in transforming them into a national movement, aiming not only to treat mental illness but also to enhance overall country wellbeing. This shift represents a vital revolution in a country where cultural norms have traditionally hindered the open discussion of mental health issues.

Breaking down barriers The transformation into a mental health-aware nation requires breaking down numerous barriers. Social stigma, a lack of education about mental health, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure are among the top challenges.

In our country, mental health stigma has deep roots. There are many reasons, but cultural beliefs and a lack of awareness play a very important role. People often see mental health issues as a weakness or something that has a negative impression. People often assume that mental health issues indicate a lack of mental stability and fitness. These factors make it difficult for people to seek professional help.

The stigma affects all age groups, from young to old. Untreated mental illnesses lead to decreased productivity and strained relationships. In some extreme cases, it may even lead to committing suicide. The cost is immeasurable. However, India is making strides to overcome these challenges through increased public health campaigns and the integration of mental health services with primary health care.

Government Initiatives: The government has recognized the urgency of addressing mental health issues and has taken steps towards policy implementation. The Mental Healthcare Act of 2017, which decriminalizes suicide and ensures every individual the right to access mental health care, is a testament to India’s commitment. The act requires the provision of services that uphold the person’s rights and dignity.

Community engagement and awareness are at the heart of this revolution. Increasing awareness about mental health is crucial to shifting public perceptions and reducing stigma.

Various organizations and movements have launched initiatives aimed at educating the public, providing support and counseling services, and promoting mental wellbeing. Indian actress Deepika Padukone founded the Live, Love, Laugh Foundation, a notable example. The foundation focuses on reducing stigma, spreading awareness, and encouraging research in the field of mental health. Another example is mind therapy, where people can freely assess their mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. Such digital platforms can spread awareness.

India is in a unique position to utilize technology for the expansion of mental health services. Telemedicine and mobile health applications have begun playing a pivotal role, particularly in rural and underserved areas where access to mental health professionals is limited.

Apps like Wysa and YourDOST provide confidential support through AI-based chatbots and professional counseling, making mental health care more accessible. AI Sakhi is another popular chat bot available on Mind Therapy. Highly technical professionals create it, enabling meaningful and realistic interactions with people. These kinds of AI-based chatbots take care of the issue of privacy; people can interact freely without fear of any social stigma or inhibition.

Education and Workforce Development: Enhancing mental health literacy and building a skilled workforce are also critical components of this national movement. Educational programs in schools and workplaces are vital for the early detection and prevention of mental health disorders. Moreover, training more professionals in the mental health sector is crucial to meet the growing demand for services.

The Way Forward: India’s journey towards becoming a mentally healthy nation is ongoing and full of challenges. However, the integration of mental health into the national health agenda promises a future where mental wellbeing is a priority. Continued advocacy, policy refinement, and community engagement are essential in ensuring that mental health reforms benefit all segments of society.

Conclusion: India’s mental health movement can be a beacon of hope for millions. It embodies a growing recognition that mental health is integral to overall wellbeing and development.

As this movement gains momentum, it has the potential to transform lives and strengthen the fabric of the nation. With continued effort and dedication, India can achieve enhanced wellbeing, ensuring a healthier, more productive future for all its citizens.

Through initiatives like these, India is not only addressing mental health challenges, but also pioneering a model that could inspire other nations to follow suit. As we continue to fight against mental health stigma and improve care, we move closer to a world where mental wellbeing is universally embraced.

To read more articles on mental health issues, visit the Mind Therapy blog