Mental health is a phrase used very rarely in our society as compared to physical health. It is as important as physical health but unfortunately we are unaware of it. It involves our thinking, our emotions and feelings and our response to external stimulus. In our society where suicide rate is increasing, mental illness is surely one of the main reasons behind it and lack of awareness of such an important issue is catastrophic for us. In fact, over 80 percent of people who committed suicide have had mental illness.
Most often, depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), schizophrenia, substance use disorders and phobias are some of the mental health disorders that may lead to suicidal tendencies.
There is no single cause of mental illness but many factors contribute to mental illness. Causes like family abuse, domestic violence, trauma, loneliness, severe psychological trauma suffered in childhood, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, loss of dear ones, poor ability to relate to others, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, stress and poverty may agitate mental issues and consequently lead to suicide ideation.
Dealing with these disorders and illnesses, though complex at times, needs to be in the knowledge of members of society, and people be given awareness as how to deal with such cases. People suffering from mental illness may exist in our family or next door. The signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors like feeling sad or down, confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears or worries, extreme feelings of guilt or shame, extreme mood changes of highs and lows, withdrawal from friends and activities, significant redness, low energy or problems sleeping, detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations, inability to cope with daily problems or stress, trouble understanding and relating to situation and to people, problems with alcohol or drug use, major changes in eating habits, excessive anger, hostility or violence and suicidal thinking and so on and so forth.
One may not be able to force someone to get professional care, but can offer them encouragement and support, if anybody is feeling any of the above symptoms. Simply, listen to understand, instead of thinking about how you can argue back or convince the person to change his/her wrong beliefs. We should avoid interrupting, criticizing, or giving advice. A mentally ill person needs empathy from others so that he/she won’t find him/her alone. It’s an ability to put yourself in someone’s else position both mentally and emotionally. Interestingly, the connecting power of empathy benefits the person who is facing difficulty as well as the person who is listening and responding. The person who is helped by
Empathy is empowered by rekindled spirit and light, while the act of successfully helping someone else can feel similar. During listening words like “I understand” are really helpful and encourages the effected person to express him/herself more honestly and openly.
Viktor Frankl, one of the great existenalists of twentieth century, once told a story of a women who called him in the middle of night that she was about to commit suicide. Frankl talked to her on the phone, giving her reasons after reasons to stop her from suicide and after hours of talk, finally she promised she won’t take her life and she kept her words. After few months when they met, Frankl asked the women which reason persuaded her to live? “None of them,” the women replied.
Frankl asked again what influenced her to live then? Her answer was simple; it was Frankl’s willingness to listen to her in the middle of the night. A world in which someone is ready to listen another’s pain and what she is going through gives that person a support system which will prove helpful in helping that person.
It is unfortunate that a very less number of mentally affected people are given professional treatments and attention by their families. Mental health awareness surely will help our society and save many precious lives.
It is said that: “A little act of kindness can make someone’s day” but in this case a little act of listening and caring can save someone’s life. It is important and we all need to keep ourselves and our close ones save from mental hazards.