“Psychology?! Okay then tell me, what am I thinking about right now.” asked the well-intentioned lady who happened to be curious about the subjects I had chosen. I fell into my well-worn explanation of what the field is really about. This wasn’t the first time someone had plopped themselves in front of me in a quest to have me tell them how they are feeling. The misconceptions about the subject reflected in the dismal condition of how mental disorders are treated in India.
This May is Mental Health Awareness Month around the globe. More than 1 in 10 people in our country suffer from mental disorders which need immediate intervention from professionals. Unfortunately, most of these people either go undiagnosed, or the diagnosis is overlooked due to fear of social stigma.
Mental disorders in our country have heavy misconceptions attached to them. A large part of the educated, self-proclaimed ‘modern’ members of society still believes that these disorders are nothing but a state of mind, and are ‘not real’. People suffering from depression are told to think about happy things and snap out of it. Anorexic teenagers are told to eat, “How difficult can that be?” And if someone admits to suffering from schizophrenia, they are given a confused look. These people are tagged as ‘weak’ or called a burden on society. When in reality all they require is a little help and patience to accommodate them.
To all the people who suffer from some form of mental disorder, this country may push you down. They may never realize how hard it is to get up every morning and come to school, go to work, or do seemingly simple tasks like making a meal. You would constantly be told that the ‘you’ stricken with the disorder may not be good enough, or that you’re just a broken version of your younger self, that you don’t matter. You may not be neurotypical. The chemicals in your brain may be rebellious. And that’s okay. Some days are going to be good, the others not so much, but you are going to pull through the day, just like yesterday, and the day before. And if you feel like you’re going through something, even the tiniest bit of uneasy or unusual feelings, then address it. Better safe than sorry, right?
-Rishima Shetty 12A