“An unhealthy body is dangerous, but an unhealthy and unhappy mind is disastrous”
Hi! Today, we’re embarking upon a journey that will take us deep into one of the most vital aspects of our lives – mental health. Using this space to break the shackles of stigma and silence surrounding mental health in India, we aim to light the way towards a greater understanding of why looking after your mental health is as important as ensuring you get your daily dose of exercise or your favourite street food. Amidst the bustling rhythms of life, we often find ourselves navigating a complex tapestry of emotions and experiences. We need a space where hearts open up, where vulnerability is celebrated, and where the journey toward mental well-being takes centre stage. So, relax, sip on your masala chai (or filter coffee, if that’s your style), and let’s voyage through the vast sea of mental health resources that are available for us in India.
The Indian scenario: A changing landscape
India, the land of diversity and dynamism, is gradually waking up to the significance of mental health. Earlier regarded as a taboo topic, reduced to hushed discussions, mental health has now begun to occupy the centre stage in the panorama of overall health and wellness. It’s time we pull mental health out from the shadows and give it the importance it rightly deserves, akin to how we prioritise our physical health, be it through daily yoga sessions or by eating a balanced diet.
The intricate mind-body connection
Imagine this – you’re on top of the world, feeling ecstatic, and suddenly, there’s a bounce in your step, a radiant glow on your face. Or perhaps you’re feeling anxious and there’s a tight knot in your stomach. This isn’t just coincidence, it’s the fascinating mind-body connection at work!
Our physical and mental health are deeply intertwined, with each one having the power to significantly impact the other. Stress can lead to physical symptoms like headaches or sleep issues, while physical activity is known to enhance mood and mental clarity. The takeaway? A healthy mind fosters a healthy body, and vice versa.
A deeper dive into mental health
The concept of mental health extends far beyond the absence of mental illnesses. It encompasses our ability to cherish life, to weather the storms that life throws at us, to foster and maintain fulfilling relationships, and to contribute meaningfully to our community. In simple terms, it’s about feeling ‘mentally’ fit, just like you’d want to feel physically fit enough to run a marathon or dance in the rain!
The profound benefits of seeking help
Reaching out for mental health support can result in developing better coping techniques, improved relationships, heightened productivity at work or school, and overall enhanced quality of life. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and self-awareness, not an admission of weakness. Just as we’d tend to a physical wound, our mental health equally warrants care and attention.
Recognizing a problem is half the battle won, but knowing where to seek help completes the victory. Reaching out for support when dealing with mental health issues is equally important, and nothing to be ashamed of.
India offers numerous mental health resources, ranging from government initiatives to non-profit organizations and digital platforms:
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has initiated the National Mental Health Programme, which provides a broad spectrum of mental health services at the district level.
NGOs and private organisations
Numerous NGOs and private organisations such as NIMHANS, Therapize India, Sumaitri, Fortis Stress Helpline are dedicated to providing psychological support and counselling services, often operating helplines to assist those in need.
The advent of the digital age has led to the emergence of online platforms that offer counselling services online, ensuring that mental health support is just a click away.
Someone said books are our best friend. They are not only our best friends when it comes to providing us with knowledge or offering us an escape, they can also be the voices and the words we want to hear when everything feels like chaos.
Here are some of the best books you can read on mental health:
- All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
- Sepia Leaves – Amandeep Sandhu
- I’ve Never Been (un)Happier – Shaheen Bhatt
- A Book of Light – When a Loved One Has a Different Mind – Jerry Pinto
Podcasts are new, and they have become the talk of the town. To be plain as day, they are a series of auditory episodes. If you are looking to hear some comforting words or the words that inspire you, podcasts should be your go-to resource. Here are some of the best mental health and mental illness podcasts you may find comfort in. These are available on Apple and Spotify
- The Struggle Bus
- Not Another Anxiety Show
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Picture this. It’s a Friday, you come back home after a terrible day at work. You make your favourite noodles and play a movie – only this time it is a movie on mental health that you can relate to or the one that inspires you and makes you feel better. What can be better than this, especially when you are in need of some comfort?
Here are some of the best movies on mental health and mental illness:
- Dear Zindagi
- Look Both Ways
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- Silver Linings Playbook
Sometimes, not movies, not podcasts, the only thing that can help you is a therapy session. No, reaching out to a therapist is not a far-fetched idea. If you think you need it, don’t hesitate. Therapy sessions do not deem you insane, but it simply means you are only seeking solutions to situations that distress you. So, consult your counsellor, or mental health therapist if need be.
Your journal will be there when no one will be. It will listen to you as you become vulnerable and write what your heart and mind speak. So, go on, take a journal and begin pouring your heart. Feel free to do it every day, if need be.
You may wonder how exercising can help with mental health. Turns out, it can do wonders for your mental health. It can also be helpful when you have anxiety. Exercise facilitates the release of happy hormones that make you feel better when you are feeling worse.
And there you have it, my friends! From the bustling streets of Mumbai to the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, the historical heart of Delhi to the IT hub of Bangalore – mental health is pertinent to us all. As we embrace these resources and prioritise our mental well-being, we are indeed paving the way for a healthier, happier India.
Remember, taking care of your mental health is an investment in your overall well-being. Seeking help is not a signal of defeat, but a testament to your courage. So, let’s commence this important journey today, for a healthy mind truly does facilitate a healthy body!
Here’s to nurturing and prioritising our mental health, one day at a time. Until next time, keep spreading the positive vibes, and remember, it’s absolutely okay to seek help when you’re not feeling okay.
May these resources serve as a constant reminder that you are never alone on this path. Together, we can nurture our minds, uplift our spirits, and create a society where mental health is not just a conversation, but a shared commitment. Let’s take these steps hand in hand toward a brighter, more resilient future.