Once a teenage boy was brought to me for counseling by his parents. I observed them from my office window as they were entering the gate and noticed that they were very conscious of being watched by others. I welcomed them and made them sit comfortably.
"Please don't tell anyone that we have come here" was the first sentence spoken by the father, so I assured them that confidentiality is part of our ethics in the field of mental health.
The statement made me reflect on how mental health is considered in India and some other countries. Going to a psychiatrist is such a big taboo and any mental health issue is considered madness.
A few months back, a couple was recommended, by a mutual friend, to see me as their relationship had hit rock bottom. He later came back to tell me that the woman turned down the suggestion saying that she was not mad to seek any psychological help.
My team and I at Exordia, are trying our bit to spread awareness through our programmes and videos on social media, just like many other organizations working in this field.
Can mental health be considered as equal to physical health?
When it is fine in our society to have a fever or any other physical ailment why not it is okay to have mental health issues?
This question is really hard to answer unless we treat mental ailments on par with physical ailments without any discrimination. Like it is okay to have a mild fever, which can be treated then it should be okay for someone to have depression. This okay feeling will help us to reach out to someone and to get proper psychological or psychiatric help. Then the mindset will change and mental ailments can be treated on time without delay.
It is not true that we didn't have mental ailments earlier, but as the awareness was less many people succumbed to them without getting proper treatment. In some cases, people were isolated and treated as mad people. Many superstitious beliefs didn't help to spread the awareness and mostly such ailments were kept under cover. Once we are comfortable to understand that like physical ailments, mental illnesses can be treated, then early treatment will ensure the complete cure.
This reminds me of the time when I was to see a lady for her uncontrolled anger. I discovered that she needed psychiatric help so I referred her to a psychiatrist. He told me that she had a mental breakdown when she met him . He started the treatment immediately and she was completely cured and is leading a normal life now.
Mental illness like physical illness is curable if properly diagnosed and treated early. Awareness about mental ailments surely helps us get enlightened about the field of mental heath which will pave way to healthy mind and a joyful life.