According to the World Health Organisation, India has a suicide rate of 10.9% per 100,000 Indians (July, 2021). Consequently, it ranks higher globally in mental health challenges, especially depression and generalised anxiety. 1 practitioner per 400,000 Indians indicates a dire need for equity in mental health access and resources. However, with taboo so pervasive and internalised, the existence of mental well-being institutions gets clouded. Not only are institutes unable to deliver their service, but the stigma also robs opportunities for conversations, vulnerability, and safe spaces.
When folks die by suicide, we often overlook their psycho-social contexts. Simultaneously, we weave multiple blame-laden stories around it. What goes un-noticed is the fact that, suicide may be an impulsive action but not an impulsive decision. We humans are hard-wired to protect ourselves, but mental health struggles can be so isolating that we lose hope for betterment along the way.
Why is a mental health disease not studied, treated, and acknowledged the same as dengue, typhoid, or a mere cold. Why has it taken more than 56 million people suffering from depression and 38 million people suffering from anxiety to address this issue? (The Logic Indian, 2021). And yet, after 14% of India is deeply affected by this, we are condemned to hear that, “sab dimaag mein hai, aisa kuch nahi hota” (it’s all in your head, nothing like this exists). People strictly associate all kinds of mental illness to a life-long parade of Jack Torrance from the Shining or the viciously threatening Hannibal Lector which forces them to believe the sufferer must be locked up in a mental institute. Hence, the use of derogatory words such as “mad” and “retarded” are arbitrarily slipped into conversations.
The impenetrable bubble of “norms” and “social conduct” has imprisoned the people of India to follow a mandate instructing the ‘right way of living life,’ ‘the perfect body,’ ‘the correct skin colour.’ This societal approved manual has created a superfluous pressure on people announcing any exceptions as unethical, immoral, or acting weak. Therefore, it’s imperative to break away from such narratives and TALK ABOUT the issues revolving around mental health.