Loneliness triggers ailing mind

Loneliness triggers ailing mind

How do you face an ever critical, never satisfied boss, a perennially demanding teenage son, a vitriolic neighbour always seeking an excuse to flare up at you, or the municipal sweeper brooming morning dirt at your well-clad dress?

To a certain degree, all of them suffer from mental malaise of some sort to varying degrees. There are more mentally ill people around you and in the world than the various official sources put it - one in every six.

The World Health Organisation predicts a fifth of Indian population to suffer from mental illnesses by 2020 – in fact, the studies at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, attest that the current magnitude of mental sickness already stands at this level though it is only the severe cases that land into mental hospitals for treatment. 

Numerous factors are attributable to stress and tension that eventually lead to anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, hallucination and other mental disorders: our lifestyle, thought pattern, ethos and the values we inherit, adopt and practice.

 Loneliness, an offshoot of modernisation, is perhaps the biggest trigger to ail our minds. The nuclear families of the day confine themselves into shells with little or no sharing of feelings. Within the family itself, there is little interaction among members. For privacy reasons, most parents in cities now prefer separate living room for even their 8-year kid. With this ushers in a chasm that remains unbridged forever. The child lives in his own world.

 As a result many parents have little idea of the vicissitudes child is progressively undergoing. No wonder we witness cases of young children attempting or contemplating suicide and children as young as five suffering from depression, as reported by The Telegraph, UK. In UK, television is the main company of over 40 percent older people; with families going nuclear, situations are not different in our country.

Lack of awareness about implications of mental disorders and scant attention by authorities are also to be blamed for the problem. As on date, mental disorder account for one-fourth of all the disability but the budget earmarked for mental health sector is a trifle 0.5 to 2 per cent of total health budget in countries. The strength of psychiatrists is no better either. According to an estimate by NIMHANS, Bangalore, India needs a minimum of 12,000 psychiatrists as against just 3,500 in place. Consequently, over 35 per cent patients or their guardians are compelled to visit a general practitioner for relief from mental disorders.

Mental health policy

To address the ailing mental health issue, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan recently announced developing India's first ever National Mental Health Policy. Together with other measures in this direction like revamping the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) running since 1982, upgradation of psychiatric wings of government medical colleges, modernisation of government mental hospitals, increase in PG seats in mental health, the magnitude of mental health at national level is likely to improve.

Lest the mental problem worsens, it is imperative to spot among your close ones the early sign like thought of hurting oneself or others, severe mood swings in relationships, excessive eating or sleeping, unusual activities, raised level of anxiety, mood swings.

Those in need of respite from mental illness can be made to stay connected with others, physically active. Yet the most tangible help they want is, being heard, giving ears to their stories. If they are difficult to come out, they are to be convinced that you are with them. Hugging them, offering a petty gift next day or just being with persons in pensive mode, doing nothing also helps immensely.

Another aspect of overall good health is the mind-body oneness. There is trend, in keeping with the centuries old Ayurveda tenets, to treat mind and body as twin parts of a single entity so that either alone cannot stay fit. The world is subtly waking to the immense benefits of yogasanas and meditation in therapeutics.

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