Every year we celebrate ‘world mental health day’ on the 10th of October. In almost 150 countries various programs are organized to make people aware of mental health, different mental diseases and their solution. As per the current data, around 80% of the total cases are from underdeveloped and developing countries. As per the experts, the main reason for this is unemployment and family tension.
The problem of mental health starts with anxiety and depression. As per current statistics, among every four persons one person undergoes mental depression at some point of time in his lifetime and in every 40 seconds one person commits suicide because of depression. This data also shows that almost 50% of the people suffering from mental anxiety do not go in for any medical advice. The most alarming fact is that out of the total people having mental concerns most are 14 years and below.
Many of you may have felt a tendency to run away from your work, avoid social contacts, get agitated and have gotten angry over trivial issues, have a lack of appetite, or are avoiding travelling. These are all symptoms of mental anxiety. If you have these problems then it is time to talk to your family and seek medical advice. Apart from medical help, you also need love and support from your family.
The most problematic area in diagnosing mental health is that there are only behavioral symptoms. If you have a fever, cough or a cold, it can be physically identified, but mental health is difficult to identify. The only way to identify mental ill-health is through observation of behavior and notifying someone if there are peculiar changes. But this is not very easy.
Most of you tend to add adjectives to changes in behavior. For example, if you see your brother or sister getting angry on trivial issues you come to believe that he is an ‘Angry man or woman.’ Or if you see any of your friends avoiding social contacts you think he has an attitude problem. How many of you think that it can be a case of mental depression?
Recent studies have identified two causes for mental ill health. The first is heredity (genes) and the second is environmental. Genes; however, play a very minimal role (15%) in bringing about mental diseases, but it is the environmental factors family, peer group, working environment) that provides the stimulation (85%). For example, if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or depression, there is a 10-20% chance that you may get it, but if you have family support and you are happy with your achievements in life then you may not have these problems.
In this light, the advent of nuclear families and the extinction of large joint families is very crucial. In large joint families people could share their problems and happiness and there were what I call systems for grievance redressal, but in nuclear family the scope is very limited. In most of the families both the spouses work outside the home to meet their economic and career needs. They find little time to share things, and children also find they get little time from their parents and as a result there is only a little ‘sharing’ and there is a tendency to be ‘in shell’ and this leads to depression and other mental problems.
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and whatsapp have emerged as means to share. People share their happy and sad moments, their views, likes, and dislikes with people whom they cannot meet in person but can confide. In a study conducted on 200 college going students, it has been seen that those who use social networking sites scored higher on their emotional quotient than those who do not.
At the end, mental health is as important as physical health and the way to ascertain mental is a clue from daily behavior. Social networking sites can play a dual role of identifying the unusual behavior through depicting your mental status via your comments and feedback. At the same time it helps to build a strong mutual bonding where you can share your happiness and grievances.