Mental Health: A Sudden Priority by Nishka Akhtar

Welcome to 2020. We ensure you’ll have a great time and reminisce about it for years, well, if you manage to make it out alive. We specialise in negativity, depression and more negativity. The star of our event is a global pandemic taking lives everyday. To add more spice, we also offer riots, gas explosions, plane crashes, earthquakes and our personal favourite, Quarantine. Our most recent act, was the alleged suicide of our very beloved and talented actor, Sushant Singh Rajput. Yes, we can also make an entire country mourn together.

Sarcasm apart, his death left us all in a state of shock and made the already gloomy environment worse, if that was even possible. Our common beliefs that fame, money and luxury were the ultimate goals of life were crushed and we all were left wondering, “what could’ve gone wrong?”. Suddenly, everyone on social media was posting about how ugly depression can get. Every second individual was trying to become a therapist, offering to “hear out” people. All of a sudden, mental health, which has always been a stigma at least in Indian society, became a priority and everyone became its advocates. Needless to say, all the posting and crying died out in less than a week but that’s not the point.

Being a psychology student, I could really focus on the bigger picture and want to convey my thoughts here. Words like depression and mania aren’t new to us, in fact, they are almost derogatory in our society. Nevertheless, they are extremely common disorders, especially given the circumstances now. People suffering from these kinds of disorders are highly likely to put themselves in danger. Mental illness takes lives everyday and nobody bats an eye but a celebrity dies and instantly people seem to find this new heart within themselves that seems to care. I get that celebrities are supposed to be “influencers” but do you really think that people need a shocker like that to realise that health is beyond physical illness? For some reason, a lot of us have developed this notion that being “crazy” or acting “weird” is just a phase after which people gradually become “normal”. Well maybe because they end up being dead. Anyway, phrases like “you need therapy” are swayed out like an insult and not a matter of concern. For one minute, just think about what that means to someone who actually needs help. But no, it almost seems like we have been wired to only respond to shocks and not any other current scenarios (no pun intended).

Another interesting observation was that a lot of people seemed to have forgotten their real identities. People who used to be bullies in school were suddenly acting all concerned and sympathetic. Men with allegations of sexual assault were seen asking women to reach out to them because apparently our emotions make us more vulnerable. All I want to say here is, if you can’t actually hear someone out with patience or willingly do something to help them, please don’t make false claims. It probably won’t matter to you but for someone in distress, it might become the push that makes them fall off the ledge.

As I said in the beginning, it’s 2020 people! And given the current situation the least we can do is be there for each other. As much as I’ve been disturbed about Sushant’s alleged suicide, I am glad that mental health as a real issue is now in the picture. I really hope people learn something from this incident and start taking mental illness seriously. Because trust me, you’d really rather hear someone’s story than attend their funeral.