Mental Health: Should We Care?
A lot of people often have the following questions about mental health:
- “Is mental health a serious issue?”
- “Should we really be worried about it?”
- “My parents don’t think it’s a big deal & they never bothered. Should I?”
The short answer is YES. We should care, and so should our friends and family. (Our parents too, by the way, in case they don’t.)
Mental health concerns could occur due to all kinds of reasons. It could be because of overwhelming everyday challenges such as:
- college and exam stress
- peer pressure (constantly having to live up to societal standards)
- bullying, body shaming, harassment
- job loss, unemployment or financial issues
- family conflicts or issues
- death, divorce, separation, direct or indirect losses
Let me tell you a story about a colleague I used to work with in the past. Let’s call him Ramesh. Ramesh had been with his company for several years. He was a star performer; his teammates, management and even his customers really liked him.
At one point though, his performance started dipping and previously happy customers began complaining. The senior management obviously wasn't happy. The management even considered firing Ramesh because of his poor performance. Over the next six months, his manager Manoj had several one-on-one feedback sessions with Ramesh. When that did not work, Manoj decided to step in and support Ramesh.
Manoj had a high emotional quotient. He also had a deep understanding of the importance of mental health. Manoj recognized that there might be something more serious going on with Ramesh. So, he stood up for him and insisted that the company should support Ramesh during what might be a difficult time that no one is aware of.
After several more months of supporting Ramesh and enabling him, Ramesh eventually opened up to his manager and told him the truth.
It turned out that Ramesh’s wife had had a miscarriage and they were dealing with it privately. Ramesh was suffering from serious anxiety and stress during this time while supporting his wife at the same time. It was so serious that he did not even recognize it himself.
Owing to the additional support and backup that Manoj and the team provided, Ramesh was able to focus on his personal life and also manage deliverables at work. Within the next few months, the old Ramesh was back. He was able to function well again without the additional support that he needed for the past few months.
What are the lessons from the story?
The bottom line of the story is that Ramesh’s mental health took a toll on him. Life happens to us all. We need to be able to recognize when we need to take care of ourselves. We also need to ask for help if we think we are unable to handle things on our own.
The lesson from Manoj is also very important: being empathetic and knowing the importance of mental health can enable us to help those around us who can’t help themselves. If it wasn’t for Manoj’s awareness of mental health, Ramesh might have also become jobless when he and his family were already going through a crisis.
It does not matter how many degrees we acquire or how great our academic accomplishments are or what our job profile and income are.
Life is always going to be full of obstacles and problems. If we cannot be mentally strong when it is most needed, all other accomplishments are diminished.
Why should we prioritize our mental health?
A healthy brain makes us resilient. Resilience is a critical 21st-century attribute. It refers to the ability to bounce back after facing failure, traumatic events or other difficult and unpleasant situations.
When we are mentally strong, resilient, and balanced, we are able to make proper decisions, handle stress and maintain good relationships with others. These are the things that make a difference in the quality of our lives.
Nowadays, social media and our fast-paced lives have made it difficult for us to maintain a peaceful state of mind. When was the last time we took a mental detox from all the negativity? Closed our eyes and took a deep breath in the middle of all our daily chores and responsibilities?
A break or pause is vital for our mental well-being.
Spending some quiet time with ourselves, thinking honestly about our abilities, our weaknesses, and strengths and making a decision to accept and love ourselves can miraculously transform our life.
Our mental and emotional health are deeply interlinked. If we are mentally healthy, we will be in better control of our emotions as well. Remember, we have to learn to master our mind and emotions, not the other way around.
A growing national problem
A report by WHO (2019) indicated that more than 7.5% of Indians suffer from some form of mental disorder. This figure doesn’t include the percentage of Indians who suffer from poor mental health.
WHO also predicted that in 2020 over 20% of the Indian population will face mental health challenges.
People proudly focus on improving their physical health. They follow new diets and work out to stay healthy and fit. But, they fail to give importance to their mental and emotional health. As a result, we come to live imbalanced lives that are not as fulfilling as they should and can be.
The first step is to break the stigma around mental health issues so that we can promote the need to talk about mental health openly and seek help when needed.
Panchakoshas: What our ancestors taught us about mental health
Most of us are unaware that maintaining a balanced and sound mental health is an age-old concept in India? The Taittiriya Upanishad is a part of an ancient Sanskrit Vedic script from almost 3000 years ago. These scriptures describe the concept of Panchakoshas.
Panchakosha is a yoga philosophy that consists of five sheaths or layers of the human soul.
It is believed that mental turbulence occurs due to the imbalance in the ‘Manomaya Kosha’ (the emotional and mental layer). The Vedas say that humans are drawn towards anger, jealousy, anxiety, stress, and eventually mental illness due to the imbalance of emotions. From their perspective, the turbulence in the ‘Manomaya Kosha’ is the root cause of all 'Vyadhi' (disease).
Modern lifestyle has increased the amount of stress and anxiety, and yet our taboos have forced us to ignore the lessons of the past. Perhaps it is time to turn to the ancient wisdom from the Vedas, to deepen our understanding of mental health.
Corporations take mental health seriously
For a long time, corporations did not care about their employees' physical health. They expected the job done and sent employees on their way with wages or salary. Somewhere around the middle of the last century, the concept of insurance for employees came in because corporations understood that physical health was important.
If employees were taking more sick days, who was going to do the work?
Similarly, over the last 15-20 years, mental health has started gaining popularity because companies started realizing that burnout, anxiety, and poor mental health affect overall productivity and output.
At Lokyatha, we strongly believe that there are multiple definitions of success and well-being. Success cannot be one-dimensional; it incorporates aspects of the financial, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual (FEMPS). Success in all of the FEMPS spheres is what we at Lokyatha are trying to enable everyone to achieve. And this cannot be done without paying more than adequate attention to mental health. So much so that mental health becomes an asset for us and we can create the kind of life we dream for ourselves.
We know that our ancestors believed in the importance of mental health. It’s clear that the capitalist corporations care about it too. The UN recognizes it as a growing problem.
Isn’t it time we started paying a lot more attention to mental health?
As human beings living in the world, none of us can escape problems. It is only our minds that can help us make the right decisions to overcome life’s problems and challenges. Taking care of our mind is thus the most important decision we can make today.
What are you doing about your mental health?
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Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational and educational purposes only. Lokyatha has observed best effort due diligence and all health-related content is reviewed by a trained professional before publishing. However, this should not and can not replace personalized medical help. Please refer to a professional in all cases of need.