Have you ever wondered how different the pandemic would have been if active and engaging conversations around mental health had not taken place?
This year as the world shut down physically, online platforms were flooded with people coming out in support of one another. A topic of conversation that was quite prominent was about mental health. Today, as COVID-19 has impacted all of us in different ways, discussions around mental health are becoming increasingly common, and more people are reaching out for help.
Being in a lockdown and pandemic, there was a sense of isolation that was felt by all, which made everyone vulnerable and more self aware of their own feelings and emotional needs. This led them to being more vocal about what they felt. The internet became an open space for people to be vulnerable and share their thoughts, experiences and feelings with everyone. Granted, there were some exceptions, but in a bigger sense, the internet and social media became a space to listen and share without judgment.
After the SSR case, mental health became a household topic and mainstream media began covering it. Although most of the information may not have been accurate, it opened a pathway for discussion.Throughout the pandemic not only therapists but also common people have been curating sources of help for relief and mental health practitioners creating accessibility. Therapists started spreading awareness on different psychological topics in the form of instagram posts, stories, blogs and even simple reels so that they could be understood by all. Having the information come directly from the source put people at ease and drew larger audiences. Viewing this on social media, people started reading more blogs and articles. Blogs and articles condense research papers and give a lay person more knowledge about different topics.
This conversation took place not only on social media but also in mainstream media which helped spread awareness to the older generations. Earlier the narrative was that mental health issues do not exist or that physical activity alone can help deal with it as it wasn’t an important issue. But now the understanding regarding this has increased and even if people do not support this they do not stop it either.
With that being said, therapists have made it clear on numerous occasions that the information present on social media is not for self diagnosis nor is it replacing therapy. With this abundant information being out there people have also started romanticizing mental health issues and making trends out of them ,this defeats the purpose of using social media as a medium to spread awareness .It somewhat turns into a mockery ,taking the seriousness away from it .But all said having therapists spreading awareness is a boon and not a bane.
According to WHO,“Mental health and substance use disorders affect 13% of the world's population. That number could increase as people around the world shelter in place and adjust to a new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
According to statistics India is ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the latest happiness index.
Currently, more than 65% of those aged 18-24 years in India suffer from depression. The International Labor Organisation (ILO) has already said that if we don’t take timely action to stem the mental health crisis, India’s youth may suffer severe and long-term effects that will affect their productivity, and in turn the national economy.
It took a catastrophe for conversations around mental health to be normalized. Now that it has opened a pathway for it I hope it is not closed up.
“Just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean it isn't so”
-Lemony Snicket,The Blank Book