What is Mental health? Let’s talk about it

Written by

Puneet Gupta

Mental health is not always easy to understand and in turn can be frightening to most. However, not talking about it doesn’t make it any less of a problem.

As a culture, we often see not talking about sadness or mental health conditions as a way to safeguard people and their health, which doesn’t make sense – it’s like never talking about safe sex, it doesn’t help us at all. But what is mental health really?

The keyword to highlight here is illness – the same as physical disease. When we use words like distress or emotional issues, we downplay the seriousness of actual diseases like depression or anxiety which have the potential to cause significant emotional and physical harm if left untreated. 

Mental Health And The Pandemic

The pandemic saw a huge surge in mental health conditions – it left behind holes in family photographs and group selfies. It’s incredibly humanising – for a situation like this to impact us not only physically but mentally as well. It opened our eyes to another underlying issue – the state of our collective mental health. 

It left us wondering – how can we help? Arushi Singh, a senior psychologist at Mindpeers, and Dr. Naveen Kumar, founder trustee at Manas Foundation offered some insight on signs of deteriorating mental health to look out for, starting a dialogue about mental illnesses, and the importance of therapy and counselling. 

What Signs Can We Look Out For?

Feeling a small amount of anxiety is normal and can be, to some extent, adaptive. It’s also fine to be unhappy on occasion – it’s a normal human emotion. But, if you start to feel sad all the time, it’s a cause for concern. If you’ve lost interest in things you used to enjoy, if you’re feeling unusually alone and helpless – you might benefit from seeking assistance and talking through these feelings with a professional. 

The biggest signs of a downward spiral are negativity, hopelessness, helplessness, and the inability to see a way out. Also, energy shifts – which might be anything out of the ordinary. 

Don’t ignore whatever the change is for you. Notice if you’ve started drinking more, if you’re going out more or staying busier to avoid feeling something. Pay attention to yourself and to those around you. If you’re not feeling good, don’t tell yourself that you’re fine. Stop and ask yourself – why am I feeling this way? 

How Can We Open Up This Conversation?

But what is mental health and how should you bring it up? There’s a lot of shame and fear in starting a conversation around mental health. Many of us believe we should not ask questions to which we do not have an answer – we shouldn’t ask questions because we might not know how to help. 

But, you don’t have to have all the answers! If you’re worried about someone, don’t be afraid to ask them how they’re doing. It doesn’t mean you’ll be able to assist them. It means you’re willing to help them look for assistance. 

Having said that, you don’t necessarily need to be struggling with your mental health to feel like getting through daily activities is hard because of persistent, or occasional negative thoughts. Whether you have a mental health disorder or occasionally feel overwhelmed, you could benefit from talking about your feelings and learning healthy coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with anxious thoughts. Instead of drowning in our emotions, let’s start taking our mental health seriously! 

According to a recent study by WHO, many countries (70%) have adopted telemedicine or teletherapy to overcome disruptions to in-person services. Given the current requirement for support, Näck’s conscious step from the beginning has been to support mental health awareness hence its collaboration with Mindpeers, Asia’s first digital behavioural healthcare platform was launched where you can book a chat session with Mindpeers who are our mental health expert. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please reach out for help.

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