I want to go back to my parents, I can’t take it anymore, I am crying the whole day without knowing why? I have heard these lines many times in recent days. The last person who called me was asking about the steps to go to India immediately with her husband and kids, knowing very well about the situation in India and also being aware that it’s not that easy to return. The caller was crying nonstop even though I am a stranger to them, she was in such a state she couldn’t care about anything. They are taking medical help for depression and have good family support still it’s hard to cope. This pandemic has pushed many of us to the edge due to the lockdown, constant unlimited news and opinions through social media, nonstop messages and forwards about cases and remedies, unfounded solutions, rumors, restrictions, closed spaces, no events or celebrations, and the list is endless.
A prominent community member, a dear friend of mine from outside if you look, his life will be an envy to others but the struggles he goes through to cope with anxiety and stress due to the pressure, not even his close ones know. A happy-go-lucky person now gets angry easily, it is very hard to understand his emotions at times. He refuses to take medical help and thinks he can’t be affected by mental illness as he is a tough person to crack.
These are just a couple of stories from the many hundreds around us, this could be mental health disorders and it affects anyone, not just the person but the dear ones around them. Friends and family find it hard to cope at times, they are in a situation where they may feel we can’t handle it anymore, we are all in the same crisis but why you are showing this anger or why you are becoming hard to live with. It’s very hard for many to understand how and why mental health deteriorates so quickly for someone who never had any symptoms. When it comes to mental illness, we normally tend to play safe and pretend there is nothing wrong with our mental status and often refuse to share with family members and reject any help.
Mental illness is a general term for a group of illnesses that may include symptoms that can affect a person’s thinking, perceptions, mood or behaviour. Mental illness can make it difficult for someone to cope with work, relationships and other demands. The relationship between stress and mental illness is complex, but it is known that stress can worsen an episode of mental illness. Source: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
Some of the main groups of mental disorders are mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, trauma-related disorders, substance abuse disorders. The diagnosis of mental illness can be controversial. Source: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/
Thankfully, Mental Health is discussed commonly nowadays, which is a good start, but we have a long way to go in practising good mental health for us and others. The common mistake we tend to do is put an unnecessary strain in our minds for matters which don’t concern or relate to us. Even a gossip or rumour can have devasting effects on our mental health, it’s so easy for us to get carried away and before we realise, we ourselves will be in the scheme of things. Social pressure or peer pressure is becoming an epidemic of astronomical proportions and getting more intense nowadays, we’re influenced and pressured by so many external things it is becoming difficult to tell whether we’re living the life we want to live or one that others want us to live.
The stigma around mental health has to be broken down and this has to be spoken in every platform without judgements. Mental illness and physical illness are just different types of illness and there is nothing wrong in asking for help, it’s not taboo as it affects anyone without bias. Many organisations are doing excellent initiatives to address the mental health issue. The National Mental Health Month is one such initiative of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) during the month of October, to advocate for and raise awareness of Australian mental health.
With almost one in five Australians experiencing mental health illness, it is more important than ever to have a non-judgmental discussion on mental health and support the vulnerable without any bias. We as a community owe each other and also to our future generations to have a healthy society, so it’s time we give due consideration to “Mental Health Matters”.
By Karthik Arasu
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). More information about mental health, please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Mental Health Foundation Australia on 1300 643 287
(Karthik is a social and political activist, who has been involved with various initiatives for the multicultural community in Australia. He is currently the President of “Australia India Sports Council”.)
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