Mental Health in an Unequal World

Mental Health in an Unequal World

Given the connection between the body and the mind, mental and physical health are equally important. There have been more reported mental health cases over the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on our mental health. This year on world mental health day WHO has decided the theme as Mental Health in unequal world. COVID-19 has shown us how severely inequality can affect our life. e.g. more number of higher economic status people were dying due to illness and lower economic status were suffering.

Because of lack of food, lack of money was the other important concern. Which was making this inequality more clearly visible. Higher and middle-class socioeconomic level individuals reported more mental health issues. Inequality in mental health treatment leads to poor prognosis of patients Maintaining good mental health in an unequal world is not easy. We can say it’s an important component in developing mental health concern as mental health issues can develop due to 3 main reasons:

  1. Genes and Family history of mental illness.
  2. Early poor life experience or negative life events.
  3. Trauma

The final two elements were most prevalent during the pandemic. As people suffered from bereavement, job loss, an increase in trauma. A rise in complaints of sexual assault and domestic violence. Poor life experience can be because of inequality in society. If we remember what Gandhi ji experienced in South Africa was because of inequality. It transformed his life but not everyone is as strong as he was. Inequality leads to stress and conflict which is the root cause of mental illness.

Let’s see how mental health treatment is challenging in Unequal world: 
  • The government decreased the authorised funding for the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in the fiscal year 2019 from Rs 50 crore in fiscal year 2018 to Rs 40 crore. In 2020 total healthcare budget was 7 percent increased. But the budget allocated for mental health is 0.05 percent of the total healthcare budget. This leads to less resources of Mental health treatment and people who are suffering are not getting sufficient facilities.
  • Citizens of any country can be divided into many criteria such as gender, age, religion, economic status, environmental condition and education level. All the citizens of a country are unable to get equal chances of mental health. Due to the fact that treatment plans are not equal for all. As these criteria affect the plan, and people do misuse of these criteria. As a result people who are in need are not getting help. People who can afford it are getting the help through wrong means and modes.
  • There are less percentage of mental healthcare worker (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Counselor and Therapist) in comparison to people who are suffering from mental health condition.
  • People who experience mental illness do not get equal opportunity of education, job and respect in society. This stigma related to mental health do not allow people to speak up. When they experience any mental health concern as they believe society will reject them or they have to experience embarrassment. Stigma makes the inequality more deeper.
  • Lack of awareness towards mental health leads to consulting the doctor when illness becomes severe. People in India still believe that patient is possessed by bad spirit and instead of consulting doctor they visit pandit and astrologer. 

Mental Health treatment becomes more difficult when people do not accept it as illness and it leads to poor prognosis. If Family believe in this then patient will surely not get equal opportunity for treatment.

In the situation when demands of help is higher then resources of medical treatment, we need some practical plans through which we can decrease the gap between both as the renowned spiritual leader, Shivnanda said, “An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory.”

The most important reasons why Indian plans are not so effective are because:
  • They talk more about prevention than cure. In India, U.P. board schools do not have any permanent wellness teacher. They are on contractual basis. Every year when teachers are changing due to lack of follow up session prognosis becoming poor. If schools have wellness teacher then proportion of teacher and students is inappropriate. One wellness teacher over 2000-3000 students can’t meet the requirements of all the students.
  • When it comes to intervention program it’s mostly based on Western Mentality. Indian culture is very scientific. People accept the programs when it is related to their cultural and religious beliefs. Intervention programs based on mindfulness, pranayam, meditation and life style suggested by the spirit books will be easily accepted by the people.

In conclusion I would like to say in the beginning we must take only few practicable resolves which from a small but definitely advance over the present habits and characters of citizens of nation. Letter on we can expand the plan gradually.

How can we uplift mental health in an unequal world:
  • Practical intervention plan
    Students are the future citizens of a nation For them making interactive intervention plans which talks about facts of life, mindfulness, how to find balance in life and rational ideas and how to control irrational ideas. All these can be implemented through different games, activities or movies. Students who have some earlier signs of mental health concern get full respect and support in school. All should be treated equally.
  • Using media as a tool for positive change
    Indian newspapers and television (serials and news) mostly talk about negative incident and life experiences. What we see, read and hear indirectly affect our unconscious mind. If we give information related to positivity, happiness, virtues, resilience and hardiness then we can directly reach the people of all ages. It can affect their life styles and perceptions.
  • Targeting unconscious desires
    Most of the time mental illness starts because of poor balance between unconscious or conscious desires. Unconscious desires are mostly sexual, aggressive or unethical. Talking to people about sex education, healthy sex practices, how to keep calm in adversity and how to manage emotions will be helpful

Focus of such sessions should be talking about what one can do instead of what we are not supposed to do. Giving more importance to reading of religious books as per their religion makes our moral system more strong and we prefer to choose good over evil more frequently.

  • Awareness program for people below poverty rate
    People who are below the poverty rate must be the part of awareness programs where the resource person will give simple and easy way about how to be mentally healthy and specifically talking about addictions. These awareness programs will become more effective if it include Nukkad Natak and involvement of person they find influential in their society.
  • Breaking stigma related to mental health
    As people can become physically ill in the same way people can become mentally ill too. Normalizing mental illness is very important. Posters and advertisements on the roads and newspapers can play an important role in spreading awareness.
  • More number of Rehabilitation centre
    People who are suffering from mental illness must get proper treatment in rehabilitation centre so that they can face the future life challenges well. Thought this we can minimize the inequality in society as they will become independent.
  • Psycho-education to the caregiver
    When caregivers are unaware about information related to mental illness the patient and family both suffers a lot. Proper Psycho-education has to be given by the hospital faculty so that caregivers can be motivated to continue treatment as they become more hopeful.

In conclusion I would like to say that inequality in society can be balance by small but consistent efforts by the government. as well as the citizens of a nation must also contribute by showing equal interest in these programs.

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    • 1 year ago (Edit)


    Very interesting and the balance between mind and physical is very illustrative.
    Very impactful article

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