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Need for Mental Health Professionals in India

Do you know the person who ever stood too close to the railway tracks or at the edge of the building top with unwelcoming thoughts? Do they have anyone that you can talk to about thoughts that seem too hard for them to bear alone? 

 Many people are undergoing situations such as these every second. Many individuals are crying themselves to sleep. They are struggling with persistent thoughts and staying up late, and they may feel alone despite being surrounded by people. They love but feel alone and feel that they are sinking deeper and deeper into an abyss that no one else sees but them. Despite the fact that many individuals around us seem to be doing OK, they may actually be suffering and struggling to live.

Many people are unable to hide their pain. However, more people seem to be okay, but are falling apart on the inside. There have been multiple suicide attempts by people which have left the family and friends around them surprised because they did not know that the person is undergoing the pain of such grand levels. According to reports, 150 million Indians need therapy for mental health concerns, but fewer than 30 million of them actively seek it out.

Many people cannot ask for help even when they desperately need it because they are afraid. This fear stems from multiple reasons, including the fear of judgment by society and those around them. Despite increased awareness of mental health issues, some people continue to reject them as real problems. They continue to think about mental health issues as a myth or something one can overcome if they have good willpower.

People often think that mental health issues are not as serious as compared to other physical injuries. They often look down on those who suffer from mental health issues and blame them for their deteriorating health. They label them as weak-minded people with less willpower and unconfident. People do not look at mental health the same way as they do physical illnesses. There is a huge difference in the way they are understood as well. For example, if someone’s legs are fractured and, in a cast, no one tells them to get over it and start walking. However, if someone talks about anxiety or other mental health issues that interfere with their day-to-day activities, they are often told to toughen up and get over it. 

Need for Mental Health Professionals
Survey about Mental Health

According to reports, suicide is the main cause of death for people in India between the ages of 15 and 29. This says a lot about the care received for mental health in our country. Mental health has always looked in an unwelcoming way. There has always been discrimination against those who have mental illnesses. However, in recent times there has been an increase in awareness about mental health. The number of people with diagnoses keeps rising.

The fact that many individuals are getting themselves tested, even if they are being compelled to do so, demonstrates that they are taking the required precautions for their health. Although it is a good sign that multiple people are seeking help. This does not necessarily mean that mental health awareness has been a complete success as many people still do not ask for help. Our country’s number of mentally ill people is high despite only a small population seeking help. Which shows that the mental health of the country is extremely poor. Imagine if everyone suffering from mental health issues started asking for help. 

Many people need help and take the courage and seek help but do not receive help. They have to wait a long time to receive help. Psychologists have reported that there has been an increase in workloads and longer waitlists after the pandemic. They also reported that they received double the referrals they did in the last year. There is an increase in workload on a few health professionals. Because of the lack of the appropriate number of health professionals, there is an increase in pressure on the existing health professionals which is not good as they too are humans; after a while, it takes its toll on them and they may suffer from burnout.

Lack of Mental Health Specialists

Although there are multiple platforms wherein people can ask for help and various modes of communication that people can use to get help. But they need there still is a problem because of the huge shortage of mental health professionals. There are many helplines that one can connect to and many people use these helplines. Many people use mediums like WhatsApp to ask for help. However, they frequently have to wait a long time before receiving assistance and frequently do not.. Progress in mental health service delivery is extremely slow. Many barriers along the way include existing public health priorities and their influence in funding. Low number of trained professionals and lack of mental health perspective in public health leadership among others.

The phenomena is not exclusive to India. There is a global shortage of professionals in the field of mental health. The stigma associated with mental illness most likely affected the amount of persons who opted to work in fields connected to mental health concerns. There are very few professionals in this field as compared to others. Although now in the present times this occupation is in demand. There was many people are opting for psychology in their schools and colleges, there are many challenges that persist. Many sociocultural factors play a role in this scenario.

Being a male psychologist for example is not very common. Although many health professionals identify as males, it is very low in comparison to the number of females in the field. As emotions and occupations that dealt with emotions were traditionally associated with women it probably becomes harder for men. Especially if they have internalized ideals of hegemonic masculinity to opt for an occupation that is considered female-centric. Even the culture and society that one grows up in heavily influence the occupation choices of the people. For example, although there is a huge demand for mental health professionals in India, only a few institutes offer psychology as a course in higher education.

We need to work towards reducing the stigma around mental illnesses and increasing awareness of psychological disorders. Mental health, well-being and the lack of mental health professionals in India, emphasise growing demand for them. 

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