Even the most ill wind blows some good. A positive outcome of the rising Covid 19 graphs is the corresponding rise in the number and tone of conversations about mental health, slowly brushing away the cobwebs of doubt, guilt, stigma that usually surround it. Apart from exacerbating existing mental fragility, the pandemic has caused fear, depression, acute anxiety, trauma due to enforced isolation, to people who have never experienced such issues before. This is bringing about a recognition that the stresses of the mind are a widespread and common category of ailments that need to be normalised and treated ( both socially and medically) just as a fracture or a fever or a tumour would be. A first step to mental health is a healthy approach to it. How can society and professionals work together to ensure that mental illnesses can be recognised in a practical and accepting manner, and receive speedy diagnosis, medication if needed, and help?
Dr Rajesh M. Parikh is Director of Medical Research and Honorary Neuropsychiatrist at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre.
After spending over a decade in radio and hosting a one of its kind show on ‘everyday mental health’, Meera Damji currently works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy, ILS, Pune.