The Supreme Court recently observed that “mental health can’t be compressed into a one-size-fits-all approach”. Is this true? Let’s understand this better with the help of some prominent mental health practitioners.
The clarion call for mental health has only grown louder over the years, more so during the pandemic. Be it Bollywood celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma, or a world-renowned athlete like Simone Biles, each of them has faced struggles with their mental health in different ways. This suggests that mental health of a person cannot be compressed into a ‘one size fits all approach’, and the Supreme Court of India recognizes this.
This observation was made while recently setting aside an order of the Karnataka High Court, which quashed criminal proceedings against a government official in a case of abetment of suicide.
So, does this really hold true or should we look at it through a different lens? What are the myths and misconceptions pertaining to mental health? To understand this better, HealthShots got in touch with some prominent mental health professionals. Here’s what they had to say!
Mental health can’t be generalized
Anuja Shah, Senior Psychologist, IWill, says that although the mental health of a person isn’t visible, unlike a physical ailment, it doesn’t mean he/she is not hurting or undergoing stress. How often have we felt “mentally off”, but haven’t been able to apply for leave at work, just because we don’t know what to say?
,We take mental health seriously, only when an individual reaches psychosis, or severe form of depression or exhibits self-harm patterns. We don’t take neuroses or patterns that build stress and emotional trauma seriously; something that needs attention,” she adds.
Shah explains that the mental resilience of an individual can vary and is dependent on several underlying factors, other than the individual himself.
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“This could be his/her support system, early significant relationships, social setting, economic factors, etc,” she says.
Tanya Percy Vasunia, mental health professional, is in agreement with Shah. She believes that “mental health certainly cannot be generalised.”
Vasunia elaborates on her perspective, “I do feel that we need basic guidelines at a national level to help assist those with mental health concerns get the right access to care. Most countries that have robust systems in place for mental health care have managed to streamline care, which has resulted in more people having access to care.”
However, with regard to mental health and legal proceedings, she believes that it is imperative to go on a case-by-case basis, as legal proceedings have a far-reaching impact on many lives.
What are some of the myths and misconceptions around mental health?
As mentioned above, there exist a barrage of myths and misconceptions around mental health that are responsible for derailing society and inhibiting its progress. It is high time that the stigma that prevails is done away with, so that an increasing number of people do not “refrain” from getting requisite help for their mental health.
Also, read: Your mental health needs to be prioritised over work. Here’s why
Before touching upon the myths, Vasunia establishes certain facts about mental health that are critical. “Often, people who struggle with mental health are highly functional, unlike what is perceived by society. Moreover, mental health is a spectrum. We all will experience some kind of mental health concern in our lives. Lastly, mental health is key to well-being and general health. Poor mental health has been linked to multiple physical health concerns,” she explains.
Moving on to the misconceptions, here they are:
- Every individual who seeks help is weak or crazy or not strong enough, says Shah.
- “People who struggle with mental health look ‘down or tired’. This isn’t necessarily true,” adds Vasunia.
- “Reaching for mental health help, means one is not able to solve their own problem and is a failure,” shares Shah.
- People struggling with mental health are dangerous or incapable of a normal life.
- “Another misconception that those who attempt suicide have choice. It is in fact quite the opposite individuals who attempt suicide often feel like they don’t have any other way to cope with their feelings,” explains Vasunia.
- “Seeking help is a trap. You will never be off it. One must seek help only for serious issues like depression or panic attack or when one has psychosis. Stress, trauma, difficulty adjusting, etc. Everyone goes through and one doesn’t need help for that,” says Shah.
- Early relationships and circumstances of upbringing have no bearing on your today.
- “Distraction is key to avoiding negative thoughts. One must always be positive and not allow oneself to have negative thoughts,” adds Shah.
The last words
Mental health is as critical as physical health, and must be given due attention. Do not hesitate to seek help, even if people tell you otherwise!
(With inputs from PTI)