Over the years mental health issues have not been seriously taken into consideration especially in Indian societies. People observe it as practicing black magic or witchcraft.
According to ancient superstitious belief systems, going to a psychologist simply means the individual has lost all his/ her sense of sanity.
The reason for this can be attributed to the lack of mental health awareness in India. People still hesitate to visit a psychologist if they are suffering from any mental illness for the fear of being ridiculed and scrutinized by family and friends.
What leads to such a scenario in India?
What could be the underlying factors behind the lack of mental health awareness?
Let’s find out.
Reasons behind the lack of mental health awareness in India
1. Lack of emphasis on ‘Psychology’ as a subject in school
In India, many schools do not provide ‘psychology’ as a subject. Only a few schools teach this subject at 10+2 level.
A piece of basic knowledge about this subject would not only enrich their mind but also would help to discard the misbelief people holds about mental health issues.
2. Lack of parental awareness
Parents are ignorant of making their children aware of the importance of mental health at a growing age.
They fail to understand that problems related to mental health if not cured at a proper time can take a drastic form when children turn into mature adults.
3. The skill of a psychologist/ psychiatrist is not identified and undervalued
A psychologist or psychiatrist is a trained professional who spends years to acquire skill in understanding human behavior and study the reason for the manifestations of behavior.
They are experts in studying the human psyche through an experienced and scientific outlook.
In India, unfortunately, psychologists are not given their desired respect and are often treated as ‘mind readers’ or a ‘fortune teller’; who would look at you and would say what you are thinking.
4. A limited number of educational institutions across the country
In India, students who aspire to pursue their career in the field of psychology find it difficult to take admissions in the higher courses of psychology.
Because of the limited number of colleges and universities, many students shift aboard for better scope and career development.
This reduces the opportunity to spread awareness among the people who would have otherwise taken up psychology as a career option.
5. Lack of involvement on the part of the government
The government pays less importance to the expansion of mental health awareness in India.
With political support, carrying on a mental health awareness campaign would have instilled a sense of knowledge and awareness of mental health among the masses or people who are less educated.
As a result, the field of psychology remains unexplored by a large population in the country.
Then what should be done to spread awareness of mental health in India?
Ways to increase mental health awareness in India
Here are some suggestive approaches to increase mental health awareness in India.
1. Identifying the importance of mental health
It is necessary to understand that just like physical health, mental health is equally important for a human being to function adequately.
Identifying the problems related to mental health at the correct time can prevent physical illness as well as help to promote mental well being.
2. Encourage schools to implement psychology as a major subject
School is the foundation of learning. Implementing psychology as one of the major subjects in schools would open the door to a much broader perspective.
This would help students and their parents to deal effectively with tensions and anxiety related to academics, phobia related to exams, bullying, and career choices.
3. Appointing psychologists/ psychiatrists in the educational and work environment
In both educational and work settings, the role of a psychologist/ psychiatrist is highly recommended.
People are nowadays overburdened with work pressure which they find too troublesome to manage. A regular discussion with a counselor can benefit them to deal with stress and tensions related to work and family life.
This would also increase the need for awareness of mental health among people.
4. Spread mental health awareness programs through governmental support
Nowadays many NGOs work to spread mental health awareness in the villages and districts across the country.
Governmental support to carry out mental health awareness programs would help to achieve the goal faster and easier.
So it is important to increase mental health awareness in India for the better well-being of its citizens.