The year gone by threw in many social challenges. One of them is an extraordinary rise in depression, globally. In the new year 2022, time to take on the problem. Hold the bull by its horns. This is a mental case, should not be a mere joke any longer.
New Delhi: There has been an increase in mental health patients during the year 2021. Various surveys revealed there was an increase in depression by over 27 to 30 per cent during the year largely due to Covid19 and related issues.
There was an increase in 'anxiety' percentage too by about 25 per cent.
One claim has been – more than ever before people googled, "How to maintain mental health or fight depression?".
"Children in India have been through a challenging time living through the risks and restrictions posed by the pandemic. Nothing could have prepared them for the onslaught of the second wave of the pandemic that hit India earlier in 2021. Children witnessed suffering and uncertainties that no child should have to see," said a senior UNICEF India official.
Psychiatrists and sociologists say, the challenge is a harsh reality, with no point in mere lamenting or simply gossiping or sharing about it on social media.
More important is to take "adequate and appropriate measures", said an Assam-based medico Dr Haripada Sen.
Specialists on the condition of anonymity in Delhi said last year, "it's important to tackle the problem of mental stress immediately". Or else the cautioning could be mild, but serious – mankind is heading for a major health and social crisis.
"I see a lot of cases of panic attacks and people with bursts of fear or anxiety," psychiatrist Anjali Nagpal was quoted in a national daily.
The UNICEF report further said – "The survey findings, which are previewed in The State of the World’s Children 2021, also found that around 14 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India, or 1 in 7, reported often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things".
It elaborated on the findings, "The proportion ranged from almost one in three in Cameroon, one in seven in India and Bangladesh, to as low as one in ten in Ethiopia and Japan".
In fact, the crisis is global in true form. Across 21 countries, the median was one in five young people. If the 'New Year' bash and hyped media attention on politics and farmers' agitation etc are over, it is now time to pull up sleeves for concrete actions.
UNICEF has said that: "In India, children with mental health disorders are mostly undiagnosed and hesitant in seeking help or treatment".
In fact, the 'Indian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019', even before the pandemic outbreak had said at least 50 million children in India were affected with mental health issues; 80 – 90 per cent have not sought support.
Theoretically, common steps that can be followed with depressed ones is first his relatives, near and dear ones and even friends need to 'acknowledge' their pain by reminding them that their feelings of hurt are 'valid'.
They have to be told that their life and views matter. They ought to be reassured that if handled properly their life can turn BETTER. And secondly, it is crucial to be 'respectful' to their views and never dismiss them or make jokes.
However, social workers like Jhanty Dey in Asansol in West Bengal say – "People in India believe in the strength of family. People are showing faith in near and dear ones and even taking therapy sessions".
Theoretically again, some symptoms could be noticed in an individual and so his or her near and dear ones ought to take note of some of these problems.
Jhantu Dey says, "Keep an eye on someone who feels 'hopeless' about life even if he does not get his/her morning cup of tea. This could be a mood swing, but it may have a mental reason for depression.
If someone uses alcohol or even medicines excessively. There could be side effects". Of course, there ought to be a wholesome approach at societal and even government levels.
Even private sector partners could be involved to 'promote mental health for all children, adolescents and caregivers and the other vulnerable people. This is a 'mental case' – should no longer be a joke.