In conversation with Barkha Dutt, Neerja Birla talks about how mental health was impacted during the pandemic. She said “We launched a helpline during the pandemic to help people. Isolation in the pandemic got a lot of loneliness. About 68% of callers are males for mental health and it is a huge percentage when compared to women. This shows how even men need help battling depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Emotions remain the same across channels.”
According to the WHO, “56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders.” Mental health was a topic associated with stigma. Though we as a society have made gradual progress in talking about mental health openly, we still have a long way to go. Mental health disorders are faced by several people in our country. India also topped the list of depressed countries in the world.
The stress of talking about mental health, coping with stress has become extremely crucial, especially in the pandemic. The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted all our lives. While many took the time out to spend with their family and close friends many others found it overwhelming and impacting their mental health negatively.
In the recent times, mental health awareness has increased when compared to previous times. Being a person who has dealt with mental health disorders, Ananya Birla adds that “I was 14 when I realized something was up with my mental health and that something was bad. Awareness about mental health wasn’t there. Something is amiss.”
She further adds that “I was just completely lost, is used to play chess that kept me going. Though I was highly functional I was depressed. Nobody understands what happens. Therapies really helped me. My mom has always been my strength. I wouldn’t have been here without her.”
Being a care giver in a situation that needs you to be available for your child is a tough task. “It has been tough for me. Being naïve in such topic, it was eventual to feel guilty. Handling my emotions and her emotions together is extremely difficult. Being a caregiver is a tough journey.”
Mental health has a stigma attached to it and even your own family judges you for it. “When people from the family invalidate your emotions, it’s a stifling feeling,” Ananya Birla shares her feelings while expressing how her family reacted to her having mental health issues.