Heal your mind

Heal your mind

Mental health Psychological ailments have become common in youngsters due to the stress of career & social life.

Heal your mind

A large number of Indians suffer from psychological ailments, and many are unable to access suitable and timely help for them. A significant portion of such individuals are teenagers and young adults, who are struggling with the physical, emotional, psychological and social changes taking place around them.

The problem areas range from peer pressure, bullying, eating disorders, unhealthy body images, to extreme cases like self-harm, alcohol and substance abuse. Since mental healthcare facilities are inaccessible in most cases, we need to take the first steps to help the person suffering from a psychological ailment.

Here are a few ways for young adults to take care of their own mental health:

Circle of trust
It might be difficult and awkward to talk to your parents about how you are feeling, and the stress you are trying to cope with. Often, you feel the need to portray that you are strong and can deal with things yourself. However, simply sharing your thoughts with someone can put your mind at ease and relieve you of stress. Your confidant need not be someone from your family. It could be any trusted adult — a teacher, a counsellor or a professor. Expand your circle of trust to include well-wishers, and have an open and honest conversation with them.

Learn to detox
Constantly thinking and worrying about your career, studies, social life and relationships can take a toll on your psychological well-being. Your negative thoughts can overwhelm you quickly. Find an appropriate outlet to give vent to these thoughts in order to detox and cleanse your mind on a regular basis. The trick is to identify what really works for you. It could be writing a journal or a poem, pursuing art, music or playing a sport. Ensure that your brain has a suitable healing channel to offload the stress it takes and reduce the mind’s clutter.

Identify the stressors
The next time you feel particularly vulnerable, depressed or anxious; take a moment to observe what triggered your reaction. Did a conversation about your future cause anxiety, or did a friend’s update on social media put you off? With so many things vying for our attention, it is easy to get unduly influenced by any and every one of them. Identifying what is bothering you is an important step in the process of healing.

Gather information
More often than not, sources of depression and anxiety are due to confusion, misinformation and lack of understanding about complex issues. Identities are formed, options are explored and a sense of belonging is cultivated during the teenage years. However, these developments come with the pressure of making the right choices. Unfortunately, we are turning to the Internet to find answers, as opposed to asking someone we trust. Instead of seeking unverified and often incorrect information, approach someone you trust to give you information and support.

There are also several reliable online platforms that offer psychological assessment and counselling. Such technology-driven platforms can help you identify your psychological issues objectively and scientifically. And you can follow this up by consulting psychologists and psychiatrists.

Watch out
Ensure that you don’t miss the red flags when you interact with your friends and classmates. If you notice a friend or a classmate experiencing sudden behavioural changes such as withdrawal from activity, excessive anger, dipping grades, substance abuse, or anything remotely worrisome, make sure to reach out to them. Engage in honest conversations, and refrain from giving advice, unless explicitly asked for.

The simple act of lending an ear will help them a lot. However, if you feel that their thoughts and ideas are troubling them, involve a trusted adult who is likely to help them. A clinical psychologist or psychiatrist may need to get involved, if the issue is of a clinical nature and requires professional intervention. Such intervention could be in the form of pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy, depending on the severity of the issue at hand.

Experiencing stress, depression, anxiety, helplessness or identity crisis are challenges that most teenagers face. You need to keep in mind that feeling a certain way, seeking help or confiding in someone is not a sign of weakness. A psychological ailment is not a dark secret that needs to be kept under wraps. Mental health conditions are not your fault. They arise due to an interplay of complex genetic, familiar and socio-cultural factors that we, as a society, are only beginning to acknowledge and comprehend. Look at it this way: if you play sports and exercise with the goal of keeping your body fit, why not make the same effort to keep the most important part of your being, your mind, healthy?

(The author is a senior manager at Pearson Clinical & Talent Assessment.)