Mental Health Issues: Here’s why psychological first aid should be the pressing priority!

Updated: Jun 22, 2020 12:48 PM

Specifically in India, the National Mental Health Survey reveals that about 15% Indians need active intervention for multiple mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression.

Mental Health Issues, psychological first aid, Mental Health tips, Mental Health issues system, depression, depression signs, suicideDisturbingly, over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. (Reuters photo)

By Lokesh Mansukhani

As estimated by WHO, one in four people across the world are affected by mental disorders at some point in their lives. However depression is single largest contributor to global disability and at its worst, can lead to suicide. Disturbingly, over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.

Specifically in India, the National Mental Health Survey reveals that about 15% Indians need active intervention for multiple mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. The average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every lakh people and the majority of people who commit suicide are below 44 years of age. Are we well equipped to address this issue?

It’salarming that we can elaborately explore tiniest issues of cold and flu as well as largest issues of infertility, aids and cancer, supported by up-to-the-date infrastructure and highly skilled medical personnel to deal with the challenges. But it’s regrettable that knowing the severity and prevalence score of depression, no-one wants to consider it equally significant.As reported latest in 2014, there is on one psychologist or psychiatrist in 100,000 people, a ratio that completely contradicts the disease ratio.

Even the notions around depression are mostly misconceptions. Scientifically, it’s not always a result of stress or life concerns, instead it can be a medical problem due to loss of some bio-chemicals in the brain. A gladsome and successful person can also be afflicted by depression. What escalates the issue to the brink of collapse is the lack of support system, giving rise to psychosocial causes. “To counter the dearth of medical practitioners, there should be a provision of training each individual for Psychological First Aid, the way we do for other health problems. They can be the psychological health warriors who are available to the victims as a primary support to break the ill-effect of that one provocative moment, which can be later lead by experts.” states an expert psychologist. This idea definitely seems to be an innovative initiation in the direction. If the medical fraternity, government and non-commercial organizationsunanimously come together to nurture a gang of such warriors in each corner of the nation, we can surely save many lives that succumb to this loose end.

In addition it is no less important to slaughter the stigma and taboo associated with speaking about and getting oneself treated for mental disorders. Every individual is flooded with emotions but is scared to communicate and therefore pretend to be fine, which leads to a bigger irreparable problem. “At the onset it is very important for the affected on to speak up and should have someone to listen to him. Further, need for a medical help should be assessed positively.” adds another psychiatrist.

Unfortunately COVID 19 has aggravated the issue as people can’t meet in person to share the influx of emotions. This is the time when you find digital communications can never surpass personalized attention and care. Rather digital media which was meant to simplify the communication turn out to be an adversary which insensible people use to criticize, judge and abuse someone without realizing the end result. It’s really hard to govern this misuse but some policies to scrutinize misdemeanor & voyeuristic communications might help. Till the time we could control others we should learn to control ourselves and make sure that we speak without any delay. Besides, another big salvage can definitely be a force of warriors trained to extend first aid for psychological disturbances, curtailing the dreadful impact of depression. A social reconditioning can be an added plus, where everyone tries to observe and help people around, who are seeking help and support.

Mental agony does not appear to be as soul-crushing as the physical one, but it can be definitely a bigger threat if not treated and tackled right.

(The author is Head – Communication at KGK Group. Views expressed are personal.)

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