A few years back Deepika Padukone had struggled to hold back tears as she talked about depression. The news about her dark days when she lacked the desire to even get out of bed, had people talking. The most common reaction was surprise. People wondered why a celebrity would even be depressed? But a rather important silver lining from Deepika Padukone's revelation was that it got people talking about mental health.
Mental health issues have been around for a long time. But the fact that a well-known celebrity came out and shared her story gave people confidence to confront their fears. Since then a number of people have shared their stories - from leading sports personalities to TV stars.
After her travails, Deepika Padukone launched the Live Love Laugh foundation to help and extend support to people troubled by mental health issues. Sometimes, people mistake sadness for depression and there are pointers on the website to help people identify their problems because mental health does not only deal with depression. Stress and anxiety are major components as well.
Mental health issues have increased in the recent lockdown. Many people have experienced stress and anxiety due to the uncertainty of the situation. From jobs to daily life, it has been a struggle.
Aniket Chandra, a student of Ballygunge Science College in Kolkata, has an interesting way to deal with stress. He told BE, “One of the easiest ways of addressing your problems from my point of view would be to jot them down in a notebook focusing on how we have acted on that particular day. Have my actions hurt someone else's sentiment? Have I been able to lift someone else's spirit? Or it could simply be what I got to learn on that particular day by having normal conversations which doesn't always have to be critical. The tough part is always owning up one's own fault before pointing to someone else's.”
According to psychologists at iCALL - a psychosocial helpline for individuals in emotional and psychological distress - the best way to keep your mind fresh during the lockdown is to do the things that you love.
One could even take the opportunity to help those in need or learn new interests and hobbies. The best way to keep your mind from negative thoughts is to engage in activities that have long term benefits like exercise or meditation. This will calm the mind and make you look at the bigger picture.
This experience helped Aniket Chandra gain a new outlook on things. He added, "We have to constantly feed our minds with positive thoughts. In order to bring positive changes in our lives, we must be honest enough to address the negativity which lurks within ourselves. This can start by questioning oneself as to how my own actions can bring about a positive change.”
The first thing about mental health is to acknowledge that there is a problem. With help from family and friends, any issues related to the brain or mind can be overcome. A lot of research is now available for people to tap into and understand mental health.
Chandra believes that compassion is necessary in today's world and said, “What we often tend to forget is that a minor act of compassion for the person in front of us can mean a whole world for him or her. Respecting and appreciating even a minor effort of that individual instead of mocking them can lift their spirit and provide them the courage and confidence to continue pursuing their goals.”
Talking about the role that a person's near and dear ones can play, the team at iCALL informed, “In terms of the role of friends and family in helping someone who is fighting mental illness, providing a non-judgmental space for anyone who suffers from mental health concern is important. At the same time, initiating conversations with them about seeking professional help is also one of the ways in which you can help them.”
The work being done by organisations like iCall or individuals like Sneha Das, through her page (elsilvermirror) on Instagram, has allowed people to realise that they are not alone. “We have mentioned in our post that anyone can drop in a message if they feel they need someone to talk to. We would happily love to bring in awareness together as well," informed Debratna Dhali, Sneha Das's blog mate on elsilvermirror.
Das mentioned, “Our mind is a part of our body. So personally, I feel we should prioritise mental in the same way we prioritise our physical health. Very few are well read about the symptoms and causes of depression and anxiety. I do not blame them for that, they just follow what the society tells them to do.”