Mental Health Awareness in India

Hi everyone! My name is Manavii and I hope you all are
excited for the new year. Today I will be talking about the stigmas around mental health and psychology in India. Now, before I begin talking about these serious
subjects, I would like to give you guys a little bit of background about myself basically. So I was born in India and I raised there
till I was about 9 and then I moved to the United States. And then I spent a lot of my childhood moving
back and forth between India and the US. And people would constantly ask me “What’s
different over there?” or “Which place do you like better?”and these questions prompted
me to start to compare the two countries. Now, fastforward to senior year, which is
right now, when I first began to take psychology as a class. As I entered the class, I expected it to only
be about mental disorders and I was quickly proven wrong. And as my school gave us talks about mental
health and I saw all these clubs that were spreading awareness about it, I began to think
of my time in India where mental health was completely ignored and psychology was considered
a subject for those who couldn’t do well in maths and the hard sciences. And so, I wanted to start this project and
it inspired me to create this video which is to increase awareness about it and to help
combat the stigmas. So, I decided to survey a bunch of Indian
students between the ages of 13 and 20 to to see if these views were still pervasive in
the Indian youth. And the results were kind of surprising. Also, since I am in no way a professional
in psychology, I decided to interview 2 counselors from India and here are their quick little
introductions. Hi, my name is Purnima and I work as a counselor. A counseling psychologist and I’ve been in
this field for the past 14 odd years. Hi, I’m Namita Kaith and I’m a counseling
psychologist. I have been in the field for close to about
14-15 odd years and I’m working in a clinic with a psychiatrist and along with that I
also do my private practice which is in Delhi itself. So now that you’ve met the counselors,
I would like to bring the attention back to the survey and go over the responses that
I got. In addition to interviewing the counselors,
I asked the members of my psychology club to react to some of the responses. In my survey, I also asked students how common
they though mental illness was in India. And as I was trying to look for an answer,
I was shocked to find the lack of statistics and the lack of information on this subject. And I decided to ask the counselors about
how common they thought mental illness was in India and where I could get these facts. So here is their response. So it is very common and what has happened
is that cases are not reported because of the stigma attached to it, that people could
not be going to a professional for help and because they don’t go to a professional and
in a country like India, people still believe a lot in things like voodoo and those kind
of things. “Take them to
a pundit” or “Take them to this particular person who’s doing some back magic healing”. So a lot of reports don’t come to us in numbers
but it is definitely very much there. You can’t say that it’s not there. In my survey, I also asked students whether
or not they thought Indians were very accepting of people with mental illnesses and 92.5%
of them said no. And so I wanted to ask the counselors about
their experience with the stigmas around mental health and I wanted to know if Indians were
open to them about mental disorders. So we find a mixed sort of pattern. You’ll be surprised that so many times we
have kids coming in and they are the ones who kind of told their parents that “I need
to go see a psychologist” or “I want to go to a counselor because I don’t think I am
feeling alright”. And it is then that the parents have called
us and said that “Ok” you know “my daughter is 14” or “my son is 16” and “do you handle
clients of that age group? Because they want to meet the counselor for
something.” So sometimes they will share their problems
and then say “we want to go” or sometimes they say “Ok, I can’t talk about the problem
but I want to talk to someone, so take me to a professional.” So those kind of situations are there and
yes, sometimes parents are not very understanding. I think this has to do with their own insecurities. I think it’s also very overwhelming for the
parent, you know, to come to terms with the fact that your child is having a certain psychological
problem because, let’s not forget, that parents also are not very aware of what is psychological
health or what is mental illness. We all equally have our own barriers that
we have to overcome. I also think that it’s difficult for parents
but I am happy to see that a lot of the scenario is changing in the last 4,5,6 years. From when I started to now, I think parents
are far more open and even parents who come from tier 2 cities. I’m not talking about the metros but even
tier 2 cities and people who are coming from some remote parts of a place like Punjab. They actually want to come to a good doctor
and come to a good therapist and try and help their children. They do take those efforts. So it is encouraging in that way but, of course,
I still think we have a long way to go in terms of acceptance, awareness, learning and
becoming more normal about it; thinking that “Ok, it’s just like going to a physician.” Now that we know that the stigma is there
for sure, it’s important to understand why this stigma exists. Me and my psychology group did have a discussion
on this but before we get into that, I would like for you to hear the counselor’s response. Tough to say why it is there. I think there’s a lot of ignorance around
the whole thing. The understanding of mental illnesses, mental
disorders is extremely, extremely low and in fact, there are just too many myths and
distortions associated with mental disorders. So, typically people have very dramatic and
drastic views of what a mental disorder is like Whereas, you know, I’ve had visiting in the
clinic telling me “oh, why is that person here?” Somebody that they saw at the reception Why is that person here? That person looks so normal.” Whereas, all the people who come to me are
just like people like you and me. It’s not like it’s written on the face that
“Ok this person has a problem.” I think it also has to do with the role of
the movies and the media has placed because in the movies , obviously, their job is to
dramatize everything. So they have shown and depicted a very dramatized
version. So, I’m not saying that those things don’t
happen, they do happen, but they happen in a very limited way. But the general public now has the impression
that “oh a mental disorder means-” like that depiction they have seen in a movie. So I felt that , that also has played a role
in distorting the views and creating the stigma. I thought it was interesting that both counselors
brought up the influence of the media in how the public views mental health and so I decided
to look into it and go on a “bollywood-binge-watch-spree” and what I discovered was that, in a lot of
movies, mentally ill people were depicted as excessively violent. For example, here’s a scene from the 1995
movie “Raja” and he is just seen as going into this burst of anger over a broken toy. And you may be thinking “Manavii, times have
changed, it’s 2015 not 1995” but a lot of modern movies do the same. The 2014 movie, Humshakals, makes mental health
a joke. The 2 main characters are mentally ill or
have half a brain and they’re portrayed as these comedic characters that aren’t meant
to be take seriously. And in the song “Hum Pagal Nahin Hai” the
doctors and nurses are portrayed as these mean, evil people who do not care about their
patients. And the hospital is shown as a place to torture. And the song goes on to make fun of electroshock
therapy and shows multiple patients getting it In my survey, I also asked students how their
parents would react if they told them that they had a mental illness or how they themselves
would react if a friend told them that they had a mental illness. And most of the responses were very nice and
comforting and they said things like “my parents will support me no matter what” and “I would
try to find some help for my friend”and those are very nice but we also had a few responses
that surprised us and said things like “Obviously, I would thinks it’s a joke at first” or “my
parents would tell me to stop joking around” and I feel like these responses show the effect
of the media on how Indians view mental health because the media just makes it a joke. The final question in my survey asked students
how their parents would react if they decided to pursue a career related to psychology and
we had a lot of responses that said that their parents would support them no matter what
which is very nice to hear but we also had a couple responses that said things like “my
parents want me to become an engineer” or “a doctor” or “psychology doesn’t get you
enough money” or “psychology isn’t a respectable job” and these responses are kind of understandable. Because in India, psychology is still a developing
field and I feel like we can make this field a more “happening” one if we remove the stigmatization
of psychology in general. And so as a final question to my counselors,
I wanted to ask them what keeps them going and what makes their job interesting and what
makes it worth all of the negative aspects of it What has really worked for me and kept me
here very interested and very satisfied is the fact that if you want to work in this
field, you have to constantly work on your own self because you cannot help a person
if you haven’t worked on your own own self to a certain extent. And so you have to constantly look at your
own self, how you are processing things, how your thoughts, feelings, actions etc. are,
looking at the depressive part within your own self and looking at the anxious part within
your own self in order to be able to relate with somebody else’s similar condition and
so on. So I find that part of it extremely grounding
and enriching at the same time. You constantly have to keep the focus on your
own self and so this is one area in which you will never ever feel that you are stagnating
because you are constantly growing and with every experience you are constantly growing
so there is no stagnation definitely. Then also it’s obviously a very very fullfilling
experience to just sit and listen to somebody else’s story just openly, without judgement,
without any other ideas around it, just listening to somebody else’s story. I think that in it self is a very beautiful
experience and it teaches you a lot. This field teaches you a lot because you constantly
need to keep suspending your own ideas about things and see it from somebody else’s perspective
and that can really make you grow. So, through the conversations and discussions
I had with my psychology club about this, we came to the conclusion that this entire
event is kind of like a cycle of stigmatization. And it all begins with the stigmatization
of mental health and this prevents a person with mental illness from getting the help
that they need because they are too ashamed to tell anyone that they need help. And this in turn leads to the professions
relating to psychology to become unpopular because they aren’t very “happening”. This in turn leads to a lot of misinformation
and misconceptions about what mental health really is and this allows outside influencers
like the media and bollywood to teach the population about mental health, and they end
up incorrectly doing so. Which in turn leads to this new stigma around
the field of psychology and then no student want to study it or go into that profession
which then leads to a deficit of people in that field which then prevents this education
of people and provides a lack of resources for people with mental illness. So it’s all a giant cycle and the only way
to fight it is to end the stigmas and to really fight them And the way to fight them is to talk about
it and to educate people about it and to spread awareness about it. And that was the purpose of this entire video. And I hope this video has inspired you to
look at mental illness and psychology in a new light And maybe it encourages you to take that psychology
class in your school. So I encourage all of you to talk about mental
health with your friends and family and start this conversation. We cannot continue to ignore these problems
because if we continue to ignore them and leave them for later, they’ll never be solved. And so to show your support for this cause,
I want you to post a picture with your friends using the #StartTheConversationEndTheStigma
or for short just say #STCETS to indicate that you talked about mental health and to
support the fight against the stigma. And finally, I would like to thank you guys
for making it through this entire video. I’m going to upload another video that just
talks about depression, anxiety, when to get help and where to get help and that will be
another video on this channel. And again, like, comment, and share this video
and I will leave the links to any of the sources that I used down below and any resources that
that I can find will be linked down below. Thank you so much for watching and I hope you have an amazing new year and yeah, thank
you for watching!



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