A Looming Threat! Indias Mental Health Pandemic Sees No End

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The Logical Indian Crew

A Looming Threat! India's Mental Health Pandemic Sees No End

One in seven Indians were affected by mental disorders of varying severity. The proportional contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India has almost doubled since 1990.

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Mental health forms an integral component of overall health, and stable mental health extends beyond the lack of any mental illness. However, mental disorders are amongst the leading causes of non-fatal deaths in India. A systematic understanding of their prevalence, disease burden, and risk factors is not readily available for each state of India. As of 2017, one in seven Indians were victims of mental disorders of some kind. Moreover, the proportional contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India has almost doubled since 1990.

15% Adults Over 60 Years Have Mental Disorders

The World Health Organization (WHO) report mentioned that the population is ageing rapidly worldwide. Therefore, between 2015 to 2050, the percentage of people above the age of 60 would increase from 12 per cent to 22 per cent. The older population would increase from 900 million to 2 billion in numerical terms. The statistics are worrying because older people suffer from improved physical and mental challenges that are still recognized. Among older adults, mental and neurological disorders account for 6.6% of the total disability (DALYs) for this age group. Approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over have a mental illness. The proportion of elderly in India was 8.6 per cent, according to the 2011 census.

The stigma around mental health, especially in the older generation, makes them all the more reluctant to accept the problem in the first place. Disability-adjusted life years (DALY) amongst the older generation adds to their mental condition. Over 20% of adults aged 60 and through suffer from a mental or neurological disorder, excluding headaches. Dementia and depression form nearly 5 and 7 per cent of the mental health condition in people above 60 years. Anxiety disorders affect 3.8 per cent of the older population, substance use problems affect almost 1 per cent and around a quarter of deaths from self-harm are among people aged 60 or above. Substance abuse problems among older people are often overlooked or misdiagnosed.

Since the population is rapidly ageing, it might be the right time to train medical and health experts for providing care to the elders. Avoiding substance abuse in their younger time makes them prone to chronic neurological and mental health conditions. Moreover, the healthcare infrastructure could be designed with sustainable policies and palliative care, especially in developing countries. Essentially, developing age-friendly surroundings would help make the elderly feel capable and needed.

Mental Health Condition Of The Working Class

India's working-class population is estimated to be nearly 1.39 billion, and the notable figure implies that more people have to get up every day and go to work. In times like the pandemic, thousands of employees were laid off and left stranded to fend for themselves and their families. The national and several state lockdowns further added to the mental agony of people since they could neither go out in search of work nor sit at home and generate income. The fear of contracting the virus and the impending hospital costs also added to the misery of an ordinary person in the country.

A study conducted by Assocham revealed that 43 per cent of the people working in the corporate setup suffered from a mental health crisis. In 2017, a report by WHO highlighted that 18 per cent of the total cases of aggravated mental health arise in India. Several multinational companies are responsible for ensuring that their employees have an approachable option at hand if and when they face any mental health crisis. However, the stigma associated with accepting that one is suffering from a mental health condition comes into play, and people are hesitant of availing the services they might need.

Studies have noted that employees who tend to keep their mental health condition under the wraps to safeguard their social standing or ensure a spotless reputation tend to have higher medical expenses. For instance, people suffering from mental health issues are at a higher risk of getting a heart attack or a stroke and twice as likely to get Type 2 diabetes. Such health conditions add up to missed days at work and loss of productivity. While open discussions and awareness campaigns around the issue can help the employer and employee deal with stress and the dynamic environment at the workplace, a McKinsey study reported that employee mental health (including substance use) is a significant concern for employers in light of COVID-19.

Employer-Employee Disconnect

The study mentioned that 65 per cent of the employers said that employee mental health is supported well or very well, and 71 per cent of employers with frontline employees' report supporting the mental health of their employees. On the other hand, 51 per cent of the employees agree to the former statement, while only 27 per cent of the frontline employees feel that their mental health needs are supported by their organization. The Indian Corporates are heavily influenced by the work culture in the United States, and lack of continuous examination from the government's end could land us into deep soup.

Since a majority of the Indian population is that of working adults, organizations must cater to the psychological needs of their employees. Several companies have already included mental health policies in the 'health and benefits' section. However, it might be the right time to start from the grassroots. Adolescents of today would tomorrow enter the corporate setup; therefore, they need to step in with a mindset that mental health conditions are as normal as physical health conditions. Thus, increasing awareness programmes in schools and other educational institutions might be the first step to address the issue. Moreover, parents need to be more open with their children to discuss things bothering the latter.

The pressure to be the best at all places is rapidly rising; therefore, taking some time off to ward off the anxiety and indulging in hobbies for leisure, fun and maintaining a healthy body are some of the age-old alternatives that experts say never fail.

Also Read: Innovation At Its Best! Computer Science Teacher Fathered World's First AI Humanoid From Waste Material

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Writer : Ratika Rana
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Editor : Ankita Singh
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Creatives : Ratika Rana