Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Have we really understood mental health?

                        Image by Finn via Unsplash
Before reading: these are based majorly on my opinions followed by my research on the topic. However, I recommend everyone to conduct additional research after having read this, as I am not a professional and even I’m new to learning this. Please get in touch with me if you encounter anything wrong in this content.
Use of self-harming terms that might be disturbing for some readers.
This week has added another topic in our chat groups and social media feeds. And as we continue to stay indoors, every topic we’re currently discussing has significantly occupied more of our time than it would do in our “normal days.” As a consumer on the internet, I’m usually very disturbed by the contents that float around every day. I don’t tend to react a lot on everything, but I can’t help it anymore and I feel like I should express what I feel about the whole mental health scenario. I write this with concern for any people in my circle, or beyond, who have experienced it and to the people who know of anyone who’s suffering.
I appreciate that a lot of people, even from my circle, are open to talk to anyone who needs help. That’s a kind gesture and I really am grateful to those people for contributing to create a safe environment. However, there were also some things that bothered me. For clarity, I’ll list them down:

Our perspectives on mental health are still stereotypical and vague.

When people add suicide to a list of mortality reasons, I saw that a lot of people were implying that it was preventable. They're not completely wrong. Logically, it makes sense, when someone is pursuing self-harm, one feels that their help could prevent it. But maybe we’re wrong right there to think it that way. Does stopping someone from jumping off a cliff or from hanging themselves mean one has prevented it? Suicide is a preventable event but as a thought, it remains a mystery. I feel that the question we should be asking is, till when can we prevent suicide and most importantly, what does preventing a suicide actually mean?
And maybe we’re even wrong to think that we’ve already found the cure to mental health issues because talking to someone is clearly not the end of it. If we compare, mental issues' cure is as vague to medical science as of any type of cancer. Most of you might think it’s ridiculous for me to compare these two mortality factors. But here's why I think both of them shouldn't be taken any differently.

First, cancer can be cured in the early stages but if the condition is severe in the last stages, it makes fatality inevitable. In the case of mental illness, medical science is still debating on whether to call it a disease or disorder, as the issues tend to overlap the symptoms of both. This questions how much do our discoveries educate us about mental health?

Second, mental health issues aren't divided into stages as of cancer. That's because it can happen to anyone at any age in their lifetime and our science can't measure in numbers, how emotionally vulnerable one feels. This makes the issue even vaguer and subjective leading it to be challenging to research more on. Additionally, studies of psychology are more complex and humanity is clearly behind due to the challenges in discovering them. We can't trust our subconscious mind and that adds to making mental issues even more complicated than we think.

For me, if there was a term for the "last stage" of some mental issues, it would be suicide. And it doesn't mean that a person killed themself, it's an inevitable consequence. It is easier for us to accept that someone died of cancer but it triggers us when we hear suicide. Why can't we accept it like we accept any other factors of death? So let me ask you again, have you really understood what mental health is?


Are your open DMs really a good alternative of professional help for someone?

Don't get me wrong when I ask you this, but if you answer it honestly, what would your answer be? I'm not saying against this practice, I think it might open to new possibilities. But it's a subjective case. It's nice to be there for someone but not really when you aren't actually there for them.

Before announcing your DMs open, take a while to think and judge yourself on the basis of how empathetic, conversationalist, and even manipulative, you are. This is also a good time to reflect on your past actions, how have you been as a person so far? Can you assure that when someone comes to talk to you, you will be compassionate, won't leave their texts unanswered, won't make jokes of their sensitive issues--even unknowingly--and won't treat as if their problem is "just a phase." I ask you these because I don't think that a lot of people I know are good at having a conversation.

The "conversation" I mention here is with someone who is going through an unknown stage of mental suffering with unknown reasons (for you, or in some cases, even for them) and you have understood this or not, but this "conversation" we're having here is significantly different from any other conversations you've ever had before.

And whether you realise it or not, you leading those conversations without any responsibility or with absence of proper communication skills can contribute to destroying someone's life in a way. This generation has found so many ways of expressing ourselves that sometimes I feel that genuine conversations are the most underrated form of art of communication now. If I have to be honest and judge my friends, I don't think that a lot of them can help me feel better by talking. I have experienced that and I know that even they know it's true. So how honest are you?

Kindness and empathy is not something you adapt right after seeing someone suffer. It's a lifestyle, it's the change in your little things that result to make you more compassionate. So please don't disrespect these qualities by simply saying you're open for conversations while you're the one who's unknowingly attacking your friends through insensitive memes and humour.

For anyone who's social, it's not a big deal to talk about yourself with anyone. But for many, this comes at a huge cost. The fear of being vulnerable and trusting someone even to share something that means absolutely nothing to you means the world to them. And it's challenging for any unprofessional to treat it the same way.

And this is why, in addition to their knowledge, a psychiatrist is sitting in their office waiting for their patients and you are at home chatting and laughing at memes.


Complains about the medical fees

I read a lot of people saying, "since medical fees of therapy are expensive, come to talk to me." Well, that's also a kind gesture. But I have never seen someone saying, "cancer fees are expensive, come to show your brain tumour to me." I get that they're different situations, but as we take a closer look, if one doesn't take mental health seriously, it's like saying the same thing.

To support cancer treatments, a large amount of funds are allocated for those who require it. Some people donate good amount to strangers who are dying so prematurely of cancer, but I haven't come across a single gofundme page from the people of my circle who require it to treat their mental illness. What is the real problem here? Are we still trying to bargain for the fees, which may or may not be valid for the service they provide? I can't say anything in this matter cause I have no idea if the fees are justifiable or not. That's cause I'm not literate enough in this field to make a statement. But I believe, that is also how we feel about other medical treatments.

Yet for other treatments, people take loans of lakhs and start a gofundme page. But instead of paying some thousand rupees for a few session that can help you feel better, a lot of us relate to this situation as if they're going for vegetable shopping.

I get that, for many, this is an issue but doesn't every medical problem cost you a lot? I just mean to point out that, discouraging someone to visit a psychiatrist due to their medical fees is stupid. You're not just disrespecting a profession, but also the hundreds of years it took for psychological medicine to grow to reach here. Instead, advocate for it to be made available by the state. It is everybody's right to ask for such privilege, especially when mental health issues are almost synonymous to catching a cold now.


So what next?

Please make an effort in educating yourself. Don't be a bot and post hypocritical things on your feed. It's hard to change right away but this starts with ourselves, from how we see mental health. Still saying, it's nice to open your DMs but understand your responsibility that comes with it. That's the number one thing I want people to know cause it's very harmful to both you and the one who's suffering. And lastly, it's true that the thing this world lacks is kindness. Just try to be kind, to anyone, anywhere until you don't have to try anymore.

Thank you for reading! And teach me where I am wrong.

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