Under 25 Summit addresses the elephant in the room: Mental Health

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The Under 25 Summit had it all – Fun, music, masti interspersed with talented range of achievers and entrepreneurs in the fields of media, F&B, Food, Music, Photography etc. The summit had promised to generate positive vibes amongst the #Under25Summit crowd and so it did! And with such great panache! However, one particular session that stood out from the rest of the sessions, was on reining in a discussion on one of the subjects considered ‘taboo’ in desi parlance: Mental Health!

The discussion seemed much more relevant with the fact that a simple show of hands among the crowd revealed that a majority of the youngsters (or the millennials, as they call themselves), had suffered from some form of mental disease or the other. The panel consisted of Dr.  S K Chaturvedi, Professor at (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences) NIMHANS, along with Danish Sait, Sejal Bhat and Jovanny V Ferreyra, the founder of The Artidote, India. The panel was moderated by ace news
anchor, Faye D’souza.

Mental health has been a hush-hush subject with lack of awareness leading to every mental disease being attributed as loss of sanity. The prevalence of such labels is what deters people from seeking help actively as Sejal Bhat drew up for her personal experiences, insisting using of labels is an impediment and there is a need for more inclusive talk on mental health. However there is a need for support systems for people suffering from such disorders. More often than not, the first call of help is towards
someone known as Sejal found out the importance of having close friends and family who were her support systems during her mental health issues. However, Danish, in contrast, opined that mental health diagnosis was best left to professionals as friends and family would have a natural bias towards you and may lead to mis-diagnosis of the problem.

There is also a danger of diagnosing general anxiety and stress as a mental disorder. As such, one is unable to decide if what one is feeling is just a phase or professional help is to be sought. Dr. Chaturvedi explains that anxiety is fairly a common feeling and everyone is anxious at some point of their time. However, a diagnosis of a prevailing mental disorder can be made when one observes changes in the general behavior of the person, change in patterns on eating habits or the person ceases to enjoy
something that he/she previously used to.

Mental problems can arise due to different reasons from something very serious like loss of a close friend or family, break-ups, bullying etc. to something trivial like seeking validation on social networks, getting depressed over the ‘perfect’ lives of others as portrayed on ‘Instagram’. Thus, mental health crisis has nothing to with age or gender of the person. Such problems can be addresses by talking to your loved ones and seeking professional help as Dr. Chaturvedi said just like there is a physical first-aid
for physical injuries, there is ‘psycological first-aid’ for mental health issues which can involve sharing your problems with someone or consulting a doctor. Dr. Chaturvedi also addressed the need to administer the psychological first aid to oneself when there is no external help available. This can be in the form putting up the problems in perspective and drawing up the pros and cons in the backdrop of extreme actions that one might take.

However, it is important for the support systems to sympathize with the people suffering from such issues and if not help them, at least direct them towards the right type of counseeling. All the panelists at the #Under25Summit drew from their personal experiences as to how they were able to empathize with someone with mental health issues. Danish Sait conceded that he suffered from anxiety and the had the fear of interacting with people and he had also contemplated ending his life by jumping of his sister’s apartment in Mumbai. Fortunately, his sister was able take his mind off the ledge and counsel him during that time of duress. Jovanny (TheArtidote) too, spoke up about how he overcame a depression bout of 2 weeks after being unhappy with his job and how eventually he started a digital platform to address these issues and how he feels helpless when people message him with very graphic pictures involving self-harm usually with a caption shouting for help!

Mental Health can be kept in check by sometimes simplifying the problems that we are facing. Sometimes a different take on the same problem could open a new space in our mind and reduce the chances of falling into the abyss of depression. Faye D’souza insists on not bothering too much on physical imperfections and how looks eventually don’t matter. Sejal claimed that the need to live two lives, the other being the virtual life stemmed from the fact that we traditionally sought to compare our kids’ performances in academics to someone who excelled in it. Hence keeping our virtual and real lives sorted and separate is the need of the hour. Danish Sait spoke how the baggage of expectations can lead to depression. Eventually the expectations are your own personal validation from the other person and thus sometimes, it is in the interest of mental health and the relation to let go of your expectations.

The panel insisted multiple times that one should talk more openly about mental health issues and seeking help and counselling shouldn’t be taken in a negative way by the society at large. Eventually, it all boils down to one simple fact – To love oneself. Self-love is investing time and material resources to keep yourself happy. Your emotions are at ease and your feelings are not punctured when you invest in yourself. Like Dr. Chaturvedi says, a little bit of narcissism does no harm!

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