What exists but we can’t see or touch? No, let’s not get religious here or philosophical. I am talking about something very important and which affects the majority of students irrespective of their demography.
Stress! Anxiety! Depression! The list goes on and there is a lot we can do about it but generally, most of us don’t bother and wait for it to pass. This is where the situation gets grim and dire. The only thing worse than having these conditions is ignoring these conditions.
Mental Health in India
Sadly, our country is not even nearly as conscious of mental health as it should be. We spend thousands of crores on physical sickness and/or injury but let the mental conditions stay and manifest until the day it goes beyond repair.
According to a study by the World Health Organization for National Care of Medical Health (NCMH), India tops the list of countries with the greatest burden of mental and behavioural disorders. Across the globe, over 300 million people suffer from depression. Here is the list of countries with the greatest burden of mental and behavioural disorders.
- United States
Mental Health of Students
The situation only worsens when we look at the data of students with mental health conditions. We have all read and seen news surrounding students suffering from mental health issues and causing self-harm while coping with it. The sad part is, although they are surrounded by people almost all the time, they are alone with this condition and this only makes it worse for them.
Shocking data about mental health conditions:
- Nearly half of all mental health conditions originate before the age of 15.
- 16 % of the global disease and injury is mental health for people aged between 10-19 years
- one-sixth of the population aged between 10-19 suffers from depression.
- Among 15-19 year olds, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
A report by the India Times suggests that 12 per cent of Indian students between the age of 4 and 16 suffer from psychiatric disorders. 20 per cent show signs of mental disorders, out of which 2-5 per cent have serious concerns like autism or bipolar disorder.
Shockingly, every one hour a student commits suicide in India.
What do experts say?
Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital told TOI, “Students who commit suicide do not necessarily have a mental illness. Their coping mechanism to deal with small frustrations, failure/loss is poor.”
” Any event be it relationships, exams or issues relating to one’s immediate environment affects students profoundly. That, and the apparent social disconnect with people who care compound their problem, making for a potent suicide cocktail.”
” Many students are brought up in cocooned surroundings, which also accounts for their low threshold of pain.”
Anand Prakash, head, Department of Psychology, Delhi University in an interview with TOI blames the high aspirations, uncertain career and monetary conditions to be the main stress source. He says that students preparing for competitive exams in their adolescence leads them to lack social skills and poses mental health dangers.
What is the reason behind this?
There are several reasons behind our country being on the top of mental health conditions and especially our students suffering from these issues.
Firstly, the conservative environment that our children are raised creates a barrier between them and their family members, especially parents, this makes them ponder over and over about their life problems and ultimately all that suffering takes the shape of a mental health issue.
Secondly, our culture itself does not promote seeking professional help for mental health issues. Ask yourself, how many of us have EVER been to a psychiatrist for therapy or analysis or just a routine checkup. We are so worried about our physical health that we completely ignore our mental health.
Thirdly, there aren’t enough professionals available who could help a person in need. Think about it, you will find physicians in your colony but seldom a psychiatrist. Even schools and colleges are supposed to have a guidance counsellor but that rule is ignored by most institutions.
What can we do about it?
It all comes down to us, we have the responsibility to help curb this issue and make sure none of us in our vicinity ever faces such issues.
- We should be available to talk to our friends and peers about our own mental health conditions so that they would open up to us.
- Parents should regularly talk to their children about their life and ask their children to open up to them.
- Schools should have guidance counsellors.