Mental Health: Myths & Misconception

It is very well said that the person who has health, has hope; and if there is hope, one has everything. We still are struggling with our priorities; and our belief that, earning name, fame and wealth should be the life’s motto, is affecting the sanity of mind and wellness of our body. It’s high time to give importance to our health as it is the state of absolute congruence of the physical health, mental health and spiritual health.

World Health Organization (WHO) defined the term health as “the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In this light, we need to understand the concept Mental Health”.

Mental Health is the condition of well-being in which every individual realizes his potential, can manage the normal stress of life, can work efficiently and contribute something valuable to the society. A positive mental health indicates a perfect state of harmony between oneself and others; the co-existence between the realities of the own identity and of the others along with the surrounding environment. The condition, in which we learn to adjust ourselves with the utmost effectiveness and happiness, can be considered as the sane mental health. So, in the nutshell, the concept of mental health can be understood as the vibrant state of internal stability that permits individuals to use their capabilities in synchronization with widespread morals of society.

Imperative components of Mental Health:

  • Basic intellectual and societal skills which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal symmetry
  • Skill of identification, expression and handling of one’s own emotions
  • Understanding and empathizing with sentiments of others
  • Flexibility and ability to cope with opposing life events and function in social roles
  • Symphonic rapport and coordination between body and mind

The universal values mentioned above aren’t related to any sort of religious, political or economic propaganda but the empathetic and genuine respect, care, affection, sense of responsibility & freedom we have for ourselves, for others and for the environment.

By vibrant state of internal stability, we mean that different eras of life mirror dynamic changes we go through, like childhood, adolescence, marriage, parenthood and old age. All these stages need new mental equilibrium with a fresh outlook. We need to accept the reality that mentally healthy person may face fluctuating emotions i.e. positive or negative like happiness, excitement, surprise, anger, fear, sadness, grief but along with that the same person may develop the attitude of emotional sustainability so that the emotions can be used for one’s betterment not deterioration. As it is very well opined by the renowned philosopher Aristotle, “Anyone can be angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at right time, for right purpose, and at the right Way…That is not easy.”


Myths & Misconceptions related to Mental Health:

Mental Health Problems are uncommon: In 2001, WHO predicted that “1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental of neurological disorders at some point in their lives.” At present, due to sudden advent of pandemic, the number has gradually increased. WHO also assessed that about 7.5 per cent Indians are agonized due to some mental disorder and it has been predicted that by end of this year 2021, roughly 20 per cent of Indians will suffer from mental disorders. According to the numbers, 56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders.

Panic Attacks can be fatal: In case of panic attack, one may experience frightening somatic symptoms like accelerated heartbeat rate, trembling, shaking and sweating profusely. Shortness of breath can be accompanied by dizziness, headache, and nausea. Even though they sound very scary but they aren’t life threatening. In such cases, one needs to calm down, go for deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and imaginal desensitization which means that you learn to no longer associate extreme anxiety with the event or situation.

Mental Health problems are sign of weakness: People tend to be judgmental on the issues related to mental health. This would be completely and humanely wrong to say that mental health disorders are the signs of poor or weak character. It would be like calling a person with physical deformities weak and useless. People having mental issues need love and care from their family and friends as fighting mental health issues needs strong will power which is possible if they get positive environment.

Eating Disorders are the result of lifestyle choice: Eating disorders are serious mental health condition and ignorance of which may lead to lethal results. Some prominent signs & symptoms of eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: This is the state of mind where people consider or see themselves as overweight even when they are underweight in reality and thus, develop a tendency to lose weight at any cost. They weight themselves frequently, starve themselves, exercise excessively and go to the extent of forced vomiting and using other laxatives in order to lose weight. The noticeable symptoms of the people suffering from this problem are likely to be extremely restricted diet plan, extreme thinness, unwillingness to maintain a healthy diet, phobia of gaining weight, disturbed body image & low self-esteem. Unfortunately, due to this anorexia nervosa, many people die due to vigorous starvation and few commit suicide because of never satiating desire to look fit.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: People suffering from Bulimia nervosa have the tendency to eat large amount of food frequently but also try to compensate for the overeating by forced vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise etc. They develop the symptoms of inflamed & sore throat, swollen salivary glands, decaying teeth, gastrointestinal problems, severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance etc. People having this disorder can be slightly underweight, normal weight or over weight but their state of mind won’t be normal.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: People having this disorder lose control over their eating habit. They eat more than required amount of food repeatedly. They are different from the people who suffer from Bulimia nervosa because they don’t do any exercise or physical activities and fasting. Their only motive is to eat anything at any time resulting overweight or obese. The prominent symptoms of the people suffering from this disorder are eating unusually large amount of food in 2-hour gap, continuous eating even if the person is not hungry, eating alone or secretly to avoid humiliation and others’ comments, feeling depressed, ashamed due to body shape etc.

Such disorders shouldn’t be ignored and need immediate actions like individual/group psychotherapy, medical care and constant monitoring, nutritional counselling and apt medications.

Mental Health problems are permanent: A mental health problem is not a “life sentence”. Some people might experience emotional problems according to the triggers and return to their version of normal but proper medication and psychological therapies can help in restoring balance to their lives. Recovering from mental health basically focuses not only on getting better but attaining a full and satisfying life and the journey to complete recovery takes time and patience but positive changes can happen for sure depending on the will power of the person.

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