May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are talking about it LOUD!

Some of us are embarrassed about it while some of us are wearing it up on our sleeves. Some of us call it a phase while some of us believe that it’s an ailment. Some of us are fighting and struggling while some of us are giving up on life. Mental Health is not a joke; because if you look at the statistics, India is growing the largest number of people suffering from one or the other kind of mental illness and as there is a lack of awareness (still) in understanding the symptoms and finding the proper treatment, many of these living souls are either suffering in silence or are on the verge of giving up.

Here’s a quick fact sheet:

-According to a study by National Care of Medical Health that was presented in WHO, at least 6.5% of the population of India suffers from some form of serious mental disorder

-There is an extreme shortage of mental health workers such as doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists etc.

-India is the most depressed country in the world, according to WHO, affected the most with mental illnesses such as anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder etc.

-One on six people aged 10-19 years is suffering from Depression

-Half of all the mental health conditions begin by the age of 14 years and the cases of which remain undetected

These stats are startling but more surprising is that you, who are reading this, know someone who knows someone with mental illness and is keeping quiet. Or maybe, it’s affecting you and you are too afraid to speak up! In all honesty, there is nothing to be ashamed of; there is nothing to be afraid of. Talking about it often results in uncomfortable psyche stays moments, stigma from people who have no idea how to deal with it and would blurt out any random words, sudden outbursts out of anger or frustration from friends and family and the most common- shame and embarrassment. The list is never ending.

They say, if you are going through hell then why stop? Keep moving and you will find light at the end of the tunnel and that’s precisely how mental illness is meant to be treated. The people who are suffering are sitting in a café right now, sipping coffee and reading a book silently, cooking pasta for friends for supper and sharing recipes, planning a road trip with close friends in a WhatsApp group and sending the coolest itinerary, posting a happy-go-lucky selfie on Instagram and collecting likes, finishing a presentation in front of the colleagues and gaining appreciation or picking up that phone and dialing a number that they have been dreading to do so for a while but this particular action is going to make a world of a difference. Yes, that one word of help is helping a lot of people to find that light.

Doctors recommend that taking treatment for mental health is absolute necessary and there is no denying this fact. Early recognition of the symptoms and corresponding treatment are important aspects for making people feel better within weeks of starting the therapy and/or medication. While there are a number of prescribed medicines that are used to treat the illness, a number of therapies including art therapy are induced as approaches for better living.

May being the Mental Health Awareness Month, Platform for Artists believes that the challenge that India faces on the mental health front is gigantic and requires impactful interventions. With our role in highlighting success stories, putting forth art as a medium to expression and providing an open forum for discussion, we are extending our hand in care to those who are silent and need a silver lining, a pat on the back to those who have accepted the illness and took charge to treat themselves and a reality check to those who have dismissed mental illness as a fad. PFA strives to create a safe space for people to shed their inhibitions and speak out instead of finding corners to vent and struggle alone. We want all of us to get to a point where talking about mental illness isn’t a taboo or a fad or a ‘just a phase’ idea but real and conversation worthy that is just going to support a lot of people and allow them to come out of their shells.

The next time, when someone brings up mental illness at the dinner table, we want you to embrace it, accept it and be well informed so that in turn, you can suggest or help in whichever way possible. We are in this together.

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You can also be a guest blogger with us, May month we are talking about Mental Health Awareness and if you want to voice your thoughts on our blog feel free to reach out to us.

Follow us on Instagram to see what content we are sharing about this topic throughout the month.

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