Imagine, Mental wellness in India is that rare teacher who is interested in teaching life lessons and bringing in a change but gets ignored because ‘gyaan ki batein hai’ whereas conventional society only cares about scores and well-paying jobs. But this isn’t even the worst part. The real challenge begins at home when you’re upset and your dad or aunty come up to you and say “Cheer up Beta. Stay positive and be happy.” and you think to yourself ‘Oh my goodness, What an Idea. Why didn’t I think of this?’ If that’s not relevant enough, you might also remember how you opened your heart out to a friend about a problem and your friend goes like “Chhod na yar. Ab ro mat itni si baat ke liye. Bhul ja.”, making you feel uncool about yourself. I had a similar moment and it made me realise that it was time to get an emotional support dog. At least they’d listen.
Our Indian society has never been open to the idea of mental health let alone having a proper conversation about serious mental issues like anxiety and depression. “You are probably just sad or bored, you are not depressed”, “Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed today?” and “Don’t worry, we’ll go to the Pandit and get it rectified” are probably common responses from Indian households when you tell them that you have depression or have some other mental illness. I do not blame society but I do blame the lack of awareness among the people.
Mental wellness isn’t always about being happy. Sometimes, it’s also about having bad days, feeling sad, angry or tired and crying your heart out, even if it makes someone else uncomfortable.
Mental wellness is an internal resource that helps us think, feel, connect, and function. It is an active process that helps us to build resilience, grow, and flourish. It focuses on mental, emotional, social and psychological well-being. According to Maslow, Self-actualization is the highest level of need and wellness which brings satisfaction upon introspection.
Factors affecting mental wellness:
Personal Factors: These involve an individual’s subjective experience and internal resources such as
Resilience is the mental ability to bounce back from adversity. For instance, someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness comes to terms with his disease and focuses on getting better rather than staying in denial or wallowing in fear.
Coping skills are your internal or external tools used to deal with a situation such as writing your thoughts when stressed, going for a jog, listening to music or meditating.
Positive Toxicity is forcing yourself to feel positive and suppressing negative emotions.
Environmental Factors: This involves stigma and stereotypes related to mental health, social media, gender role expectations, work stress and ineffective mental health policies. Only 10% of Indians have access to proper mental health care facilities due to lack of awareness and stigma attached to mental disorders and a lot of it has to do with expectations set by society.
It is the optimal functioning of these processes which comes from both subjective and objective wellness and has more to do with your current mental state.
WHAT WELLNESS MAY LOOK LIKE?
More than just the absence of mental illness.
Consistent practice to strengthen mental abilities and coping skills.
Being open-minded to topics that are taboo and focusing on nurturing healthy perspectives.
Having proper mental health policies and knowledge of factors affecting mental health.
Mental Health and Stigma
Ami Mounjulika (cue creepy music). This is probably what comes to your mind when we talk about Mental Health Disorders right? The (in)famous movie portrayed mental health in such a dramatic way that half the population of India went into hiding, the other half started suppressing it even more and the rest are still having conversations with a tree as they tie a holy thread on it.
The stigma around mental health in India is very prevalent. A part of the population, especially those in rural India still do not know about the concept of mental health. “Dimag ki bimari” is a shunned concept in India. The other part, even though they know of the concept, they do not do anything about it. Mental health or illnesses are not given a lot of importance. They are still considered a taboo. People are quick to view mental illnesses as abnormal and not acceptable. Due to this, the number of therapists and psychiatrists are very low in India.
Hence, we recommend you to read the scientific explanation of Mental Health to understand how crucial it is for one’s optimal functioning.
According to World Health Organization
Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
It impacts our daily living, relationships, physical, and emotional health as can be experienced in the lockdown where we’re all feeling frustrated and snapping easily at others for even breathing in our space.
So how can we manage our mental health at home you ask? Okay. There are some quick stress relieving and healthy tips for you.
You can start using an emotional journal as soon as you feel certain emotions rising in you to avoid locking horns with your family.
Set healthy goals for yourself in a Habit tracker for better mental, physical and emotional health.
Yoga is the healthiest option in today’s time as it helps build immunity, reduce sleep disturbance and stress in us. You can track your daily progress and how you felt during the process in a Yoga Journal.
Get a mental workout like sudoku, crossword puzzles, etc.
Kripiya thodi duri banaye rakhe - Role of Boundary in Mental Health
If you’re someone who has travelled in a packed metro or local train, you’d understand that Indians have very less understanding of what boundaries are, let alone a healthy one. I mean even I had to travel in a packed metro once and it’s not a great feeling having strangers in your personal space, poking their elbows and bags into you every second. Trust me. Hell, even trucks have more sense of boundary than any of us here because every time you’re behind a truck in a traffic jam, you’d notice a sign saying one thing very clearly ‘HORN. OK. PLEASE’ meaning please maintain a distance and inform us of your presence. Similarly, our boundaries are essential, so that no one can walk all over us, and we set those boundaries taking into account what feels inappropriate, unacceptable, and inauthentic.
Positive Toxicity- Ji zyada meetha humari sehat ke liye hanikark hai
Positive Toxicity is like that aunty who’s overly sweet and smothers you in her embrace when you barely have a ‘Hello’ relationship. She always tries to oversimplify your situation saying “Koi nahi beta, sab thik ho jayega, tum bas khush raha karo.” Really?
In reality, the human mind is not programmed to experience only joyous, positive feelings and emotions all the time. We go through a range of emotions every day in life and those experiences make us better fit to face difficult situations. Accepting and acknowledging difficult emotions help us to cope better in life and can help in decreasing the intensity of these emotions. But by denying the situation and not acknowledging it becomes difficult to accept negative emotions and the accumulation of such emotions can lead to mental health problems or negative coping mechanisms without even realizing it.
Indian Parents’ Wellness
Indian parents, no matter how strict their parenting is, always keep our needs above their own but when it comes to following the rules of society, they worry too much about reputation or position and use terms like ‘Naak Katwadi samaaj ke samne’ or ‘Log kya kahege’in situations like education, job, marriage, gender identification or premarital sex. You must be wondering, how is it related to our parents’ well-being? Well throughout their life, they were also conditioned to care about what society thinks over their own dreams, desires, and happiness which pushed them to take up safe jobs to provide for their family and didn’t get a chance to explore different sides of themselves, outside of that responsibility. This is the reason they project those fears onto us to ensure our success, security and stability in this society. Many won’t agree with this but our parents do the best they can without taking care of their mental wellness.
Academic and Work-related stress
“How will I cover so many chapters in one night?”, “How do I tell my boss that this work is exhausting?” might be common questions you might find yourself asking from time to time. Whether you are a student or someone into business or someone with a job with long hours, you very well know the stress you go through on a regular basis. If this stress is managed poorly, there are chances of your mental health deteriorating and developing serious mental health problems.
Social Media and Mental Health
For someone who is a part of the millennial population, I sure do spend a lot of time scrolling through social media and looking at influencers’ zero size figures, make-up tutorials or extravagant clothes that I do not own or have but always find myself wishing that I looked like that or dressed that way. This kind of comparison can be very unhealthy for your mental health. You might want it so badly that you might be willing to go to any length to achieve it. You may start feeling insecure and inadequate which will ultimately affect how you view yourself. Your self-confidence will get affected which, again, may lead to serious mental health issues like Depression or maladaptive eating habits.