From Taboo to Trending, Mental Health in India, by Mind Voyage
Two years ago when the COVID was declared as pandemic, there was a lengthy report and discussion on the ill effects of the virus on physical health, symptom management and prevention strategies. However as time passed people started to take note of panic, stress and collective grief that the whole world was going through. COVID not only hit the bodies but the mental health of people as well. Every person was trying to survive each day in their best possible capacity as the virus did not come with any guidebook or manual. Every day was a new challenge. Hence, the way we look at mental health in India has changed quite a bit now than how we viewed it before.
In this report, we will be taking a look at how things have recently changed with respect to awareness of various psychological vulnerabilities, increasing acceptance of mental health concerns and the change of mode in therapy services.
Before the pandemic, not everyone was aware of their mental state and the kinds of deep rooted issues they were facing. People are living such a fast paced life that to take a pause and reflect on one’s mental health is almost rare. Even if they were aware about it, no one was willing to come forward and seek professional help for the same, because of the stigma attached to it. Mental health never seemed to be the priority and counselors were only contacted as a last resort.
Fortunately, the approach towards seeking help is changing post pandemic. As we were in survival mode, locked up in our homes, everyone was experiencing anxiety in some intensity. Many stressful thoughts were coming to the foreground which were nicely tucked under the carpet so far. And people, for the first time, had the privilege of time to deal with them. As more and more people came forward to seek therapy, it helped reduce the stigma around it.
Besides awareness, acceptance is also a major aspect of mental health that has changed in recent times. Friends and family members of people seeking therapy are more open to accepting that their loved ones are going through something difficult. One of the reasons behind this openness could be that each person has experienced some kind of isolation, loneliness, stress or grief in the past two years, which makes it understandable for them. This was not the case earlier because of many reasons, one of them being stigma and discrimination.
Many mental health professionals also took this time to open the dialogue about the topics otherwise unspoken. They made good use of social media to reach out to people in times of need. They were the frontline workers too!
Lastly, during the pandemic the mode of therapy has changed from offline to an online form. This has made seeking help quicker, more comfortable for clients to speak from the familiar environment of their own home. It also made therapists reach remote areas, other countries and make their services available to people. While audio calls and chat services are not recommended, people can surely benefit from video call consultations, where client and counselor can see each other helping them in building trust and rapport.
During the pandemic an endless number of online counselling and mental health startups came into picture and gave people many options to choose from. People from non psychology backgrounds took the opportunity and mental health also became a commercial business. Ms. Rasika repeatedly stresses on the importance of giving your mental health in safe hands by making the right and informed choice of therapist for yourself. She has also delivered a TEDx talk on the same topic which you can view on youtube.
To conclude, the pandemic has definitely brought with it much uncertainty and change in many aspects of our life including mental well-being. The post-pandemic change in the mental health industry has definitely been more positive, helping people to accept and become more aware of issues that they might not have otherwise been mindful of. We sincerely hope that the progress we have made on the mental health front in the last two years continues to grow and these success stories of people inspire other people to seek help for themselves.