It's time stigma attached to mental health issues are removed: Experts

A little caution can bring down suicide rates: Experts
Opening up to a friend could be a great stress buster which, according to mental health professionals, would help bring down the rate of suicides in India.
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It's time stigma attached to mental health issues are removed: Experts

Mumbai: Mental health issues should be accorded priority over career and social acceptance, and those facing them should seek help from professionals, experts have said as people come to terms with suicide by Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who was said to be battling depression.

The death of Rajput, 34, one of the most talented actors in the current era of the Hindi film industry, has once again brought to the fore issues related to mental health care which are often ignored or not openly discussed in the society.

Rajput, who was found hanging in his Bandra apartment on Sunday, was battling depression, police have said.

Acceptance of mental illness, community-level awareness, communication and reaching out to people for help hold key to overcoming a disorder which has emerged as a silent killer, experts have said.

Dr Sheetal Bidkar, clinical psychologist, addiction therapist at Suasth One Step Clinic and Suasth Hospital, said, Our openness to counselling and visits to mental health professionals will lessen suffering."

"Seek professional help and be open with the treatment plan. Be OK with medicines as no one chooses to be stressed," Bidkar said.

Prioritise mental health care over exam, career or social acceptance, she said.

The clinical psychologist called for ending the stigma attached to mental health, which often prevents its victims to openly talk about it and seek help.

"Continuous care is the key to long-term recovery. Anyone can have stress...so avoid stigma and calling these people weak-minded etc," Bidkar said.

Explaining how stress, which can cause mental health problems, works on human body, she said, Stress has to be taken seriously as it alters peoples physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive state.

"Quality of sleep, change in weight, digestion problems, poor concentration, poor judgment, racing thoughts, use of alcohol or other substances, isolation, neglecting responsibilities, nervous behaviors and moodiness, loneliness, feeling depressed are a few symptoms of stress.

Bidkar said many surveys have suggested that more than 85 per cent of people (respondents) have experienced stress in their lives.

"No one wants to talk about it. Chronic stress is capable of pushing one towards breakdown," she cautioned.

According to Prakriti Poddar, expert in mental health at MD Poddar Foundation, Community-level awareness about mental health conditions is important, more so because it allows the affected person to lean on a support system that may prevent him/her from taking extreme step."

In these times of extreme stress and isolation, depression is likely to affect more people than in usual times, Poddar said.

Depression is a disease that may not have a manifestation at all. If at all it chooses to show, the signs are unlike any disease, which makes us miss the red flags.

"It is difficult to gauge exactly what must be going through the person's mind before they decide to take such an extreme step, but usually it is a deep sense of hopelessness, very high level of stress and inability to face the troubles of life, said Poddar.

Ravi Godse, filmmaker and physician, said mental health care should be given the importance it deserves.

Mental well-being is not as important as physical well-being; it is more important. Like coronavirus, it is hidden and that makes it dangerous. In India, there is a taboo about mental health diagnoses, said Godse.

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