From the start of civilisation, the primary focus has been human survival; the fight for safety, food and shelter. As civilisation progressed and with the emergence of the study of psychology, the existence of clinical issues of the mind came to light, changing the way we understood human functioning. Traditionally, individuals who did not fit the mould prescribed by society were pushed into treatment centres, commonly termed asylums and the treatment meted out to them was abhorrent. Unfortunately, such attitudes and conceptions have led to deep stigmas being attached to issues of the mind and its care - persisting even today.
Human beings are social animals; social interaction or the lack of it has direct implications for an individual’s wellbeing and health. Prior to living through a pandemic, physical face-to-face interactions were the primary method of human engagement. Be it in our places of work or education, cafes, restaurants or other social spaces, human beings depended on physical meetings to carry out communication and engagement. The pandemic, however, has turned the way human beings have functioned for centuries on its head. Our lives now are contingent on interactions and engagement on virtual spaces, also changing the way we feel and function. The times we are living in has once again raised the call for giving necessary attention to the health of our minds and how we feel. The focus has shifted to human beings and their vulnerabilities.
Being vulnerable is terrifying and not many of us are able to see it through. They say vulnerability can be your best friend and worst enemy. The question here is - do we really need to be vulnerable? There is no simple answer to this but pure logic dictates that if we are unable to put into words how we feel or what we are going through, the likelihood of someone else being able to help and support us is limited. Without cultivating the ability to put our feelings into words, in other words letting our vulnerabilities show, we are not going to be able to help ourselves either. The fear of judgement, of going unheard obstructs us from exploring our vulnerabilities and that is where the problem lies.
The stigma attached to mental health and its care requires complete dismantling. In its current framework, it allows for existing systems of control to be further entrenched and discriminatory. Seeking help for our minds gets dubbed as “they are crazy”, whereas seeking help is a matter of great courage and should be encouraged. Seeking out and allowing the creation of a safe space for oneself to express, heal and take control of our lives is paramount to healthy living.
Talking to someone, whether a mental health professional or otherwise, is an act of empowerment. It is an initiative to take charge of our lives and reign in the chaos that we might be going through. A counsellor or mental health professional is not going to simply prescribe medication. The goal is to encourage the individual approaching them to talk about and explore their feelings to eventually reach the end point of what is wrong and figure out why they are feeling like that. Some of the world’s biggest struggles have been solved by just starting the conversation.
Ensuring that our minds are healthy and well has a direct impact on how we physically feel. Establishing control over and composure within the workings of our brain will enable everything else to fall into place. It is on us to cultivate a culture that encourages mental health check-ups as fervently as physical health check-ups. The fear of being vulnerable is not unfounded but it can be conquered. Being aware of our vulnerabilities is empowering; it is important to realise that taking care of our mental health must be a priority and we must be our own mental-health warriors.
Human beings are the children of God; the Supreme Being is our ultimate source of solace and comfort. Growing up, all of us have heard that when the times get hard, it is God testing our ability to have faith and strive forward. Our current circumstances present themselves as the perfect opportunity for us to reconnect with our spiritual selves and trust that our faith in and devotion to God will show us the way. God lives in each one of us; all we must do is take the first step.
The human brain secretes four chemicals, loosely termed as “happy hormones”. They are Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins. A power packed combination of these four paves the way to ensuring healthy and happy survival. Engaging in activities that keep the body active and healthy, eating nutritious food, spending time with our loved ones, pursuing hobbies that make us happy are some foolproof ways to start our journey of creating a healthy and happy mind. We must remember, we are not alone in anything that we face. If we need a helping hand, we should ask for it. There will be someone who will listen, someone who will provide a shoulder for support. All we need to do is show some courage and take the initiative to regain control over our lives.