It is imperative to inform and educate India’s population about mental health, it’s disorders and the various methods of treatment that are available in this country. At this stage, it is important to focus these programs at the following four levels:
At the School/College level
At schools and colleges, students are often under immense amounts of stress, which may either manifest as a mental illness or further exacerbate an existing mental health condition. Implementation of interventions focussing on early recognition, mental health promotion and raising awareness about available treatment methods may be easier in educational settings such as schools and colleges. Further, teachers and motivated youth can act as effective gatekeepers, while also increasing positive peer interaction among the students.
At a Professional level
42.5% of the Indian workforce suffers from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, and depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. It is, therefore, crucial to implement awareness and training programs regarding mental illness and their treatment among the working population.
At a Clinician’s level (General Practitioners/GPs)
GPs are often the first line of defense against mental health issues. Since certain mental illnesses can have physiological signs, it is not uncommon for most individuals to see a general physician before visiting a psychiatrist or mental health practitioner. It therefore, becomes vital to ensure that all GPs are trained and sensitized about mental health concerns.
At a Community level
India is a collectivist society, and hence when we encounter hardships, we tend to speak to a friend or a family member. If the Indian community has some awareness about mental health concerns and their impact on individuals, then the friends or family members may find it easier to spot early signs of mental illness and then direct the concerned individual to the required resources.
It is vital to create awareness of mental health at these different levels, in order to approach mental health in India more holistically.
Stigma against mental illness creates many obstacles.
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