When we get physically hurt, the wounds on our body reflect our condition and pain. The pain that we face receives instant care and sympathy from our friends and close ones. We neither are shy talking about the wound nor are we scared sharing about the pain, the discomfort we are facing, with the people. But when things regarding mental discomfort or illness come up, everyone gets silent. It immediately turns into a matter of secrecy. But why is it so? Why is mental discomfort always hidden? What makes it so hard for us to talk about mental illness? Why is mental health so stigmatized in our society?
The “taboo” associated with mental health in a way has wrecked the society and life of millions of individuals. Mental health and its acceptance are highly connected to the behavioral pattern of our daily life. Poverty, illiteracy, low socio-economic development, and physical hardships -- all these factors can affect one’s mental health. As an underdeveloped society, the superstitions regarding it are higher in Nepal which has resulted in stigmatizing it further. Depression sadly still continues to be one of the most stigmatized mental health issues in today’s world.
Our society has forever remained too ignorant about mental health issues. What’s amusing is mental health issues are taken as a non-discussable social stigma even by the intelligent domain.
The “taboo” regarding mental health nowhere seems to be diminishing, but it rather seems to be growing because of the exceeding human differences and self centeredness. The idea that caring about emotions is wrong, that being or showing the vulnerable side can be embarrassing, and expressing feelings can put you under criticism, all these further deteriorates the condition of an individual.
The increasing competitiveness among people pushes them towards making comparisons, giving them a feel of inadequacy. This lack of self worth even pushes many individuals towards self harm.
An individual going through depression is already experiencing the emotional turmoil of self shame. But when the externalized stigma by the society gets added to it, it worsens the entire scenario, inviting devastating consequences.
As we dwell more into our busy lives surrounded with smartphones, internet and social media, our social lives get more isolated. Lesser interactions followed by greater isolation create distance between people. Everyone’s very keen to know what’s happening in other’s life through social media, but rarely does someone care to discuss what’s going on with the person sitting on their side. The world is surely developing but our bonds are not.
When it’s about treating the medical ailments related to physical health no one thinks twice, but when it comes to mental health, the question associated with society and its perception of depression as a stigma starts haunting every individual.
Change in society can be brought once we bring change in ourselves. It’s very important that we bring change in our perception regarding mental health so that we can shape society’s approach towards mental health. Bringing up mental health education as a part of curriculum can help every child build a positive perspective breaking the stereotypical notions.
Psychological conditions should no more be given deaf ears rather time has come that we start discussing it and reaching out ways to help the ones that are in need. It’s time we reach out to our friends, our family, support them mentally and physically to deal with it. It’s now time that we start talking about depression.
Self-acceptance and acceptance of others is what we need to have in order to make the society more accepting. Embracing the vulnerable side is never wrong rather it helps to accept who you are and what you can do. Depression, however, is quite misunderstood that’s where the problem arouses.
It’s taken more as a feeling rather than a legitimate illness. So change in the overall perception regarding it is very important.
Though mental health issues still remain as a taboo in our society, it’s time we gear up to break these social stigmas. It’s time we aware people about it. It’s time we reach out for others, embrace their vulnerabilities and contribute for their better health. It’s time we put our efforts to construct a mentally healthy society, which will thus lead us to a better world. This time let’s talk about depression!
Author is International Relations student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India