Are you on medication? Don’t feel ashamed!

How does it feels when you put your full courage and bravery and just face something only to realise that the challenges keep getting harder and there you need more courage. And maybe it is easier to fight when you can see the light at the tunnel but, when the tunnel is dark and there is no light to be seen, all you wish is someone to come with even the tiny spark of light and not create more darkness in the already dark world. Isn’t it?

Then, why are we creating more challenges for people who are already facing a lot in their lives. People with mental illness have had to struggle for years to remove the stigma attached to something that was not even there in hands. They had to pass the test of their faith and beliefs. They had to live in the darkness for so long, and even today there is not enough awareness and acceptance. It is still a taboo in many of the developing countries and even in some of the developed countries. It takes a lot of courage for people with mental illness to first and foremost accept themselves that they are going through something and then to come out publicly and then seeking help.

Isn’t that in itself so brave? That now there is pill shaming too. They are shamed for seeking help. They are usually told by their friends and family that they aren’t trying hard enough or that they don’t try hard enough.

When you tell someone, you are taking medications or treating your mental health issues and they flip it off or express a negative judgment which leads to shame or guilt, is pill shaming. There is a stigma that comes with anti-depressants, psychotropic and narcotic drugs. There is no denying in the fact that, they come with their own sets of side effects and what medication might work for some, might not work for the other hence, they need to be strictly prescribed by doctor with the side effects taken in account and an open end discussion. For some it may not show the desired results while for others it might do wonders. Just like any other ailment and their treatments. The seeking of help and the use of medication is linked to weakness most often. People are shamed for not being strong enough and relying on medications and stigmatised for not being intelligent enough or incompetent of taking decisions, which makes them that they are not normal or less than other around them. This in turn makes them resist the treatments and abstain from taking the medications. There is a need to understand that doctors don’t dish out the medicine to anyone who walks by, they are given for a reason and there should be no shame with getting the treatment for your brain like any other part of the body. When a person suffers from chronic illness every pill, they say is like a band aid.

According to statistics, adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions. More than 90% of people who die by suicide show symptoms of a mental health condition. Mortality rates are typically not used to monitor the impact of mental health disorders because not everyone dies from a mental illness; indeed, most are not even hospitalized. Yet mental illness is the leading cause of hospital admission among Canadians between 15 and 34 years of age, and the second leading cause of hospital admission for those aged 35 to 44.

Mental health and wellbeing are by far one of the most neglected areas in our country, India.

According to a recent National Mental Health survey, approximately 150 million people in India need care for their mental health condition. The same survey also discovered that between 70 and 92 percent of these cases failed to receive treatment. The World Health Organisation says India has the highest number of teenage suicide rates globally. The average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every lakh people.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that India indeed is gazing at a mental health epidemic. More than 80% of people do not seek any professional help in India. Talk to anyone you know who has been through this and you’ll hear stories about shame, suffering, discrimination, and stigma. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2011, there were 0·301 psychiatrists and 0·047 psychologists for every 100,000 patients suffering from a mental health disorder in India.

How many more statistics do we need? How much more do we want the suicide rate to increase? How many more suffers do we need?

To understand mental illness issues, to understand the need for seeking professional help, and not stigmatize or shame people.
It’s high time we create awareness and remove the stigma attached.

Ignorance might be a bliss; but in crises it leads to just misery.

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