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Mental Health: Listening to the silent battles


Photo: Sasha Freemind/Unsplash
Generally speaking, you know when people have a common cold, a limp or a skin rash because it's noticeable. But you might seldom identify people with anxiety or panic disorders because it mostly goes unseen.
 
That doesn't mean people with mental health issues are affected any less than those with physical ailments. They simply mask their inner struggles and emotions, for whatever reasons.
 
In much of the cases only close family and friends are privy to what they are going through. Outside of this support system, they usually suffer in silence. As experiences go, it can be terrifying.
 
According to an October 2023 report in The Economic Times, an estimated 60-70 million people in India suffer from common and severe mental disorders.
 
That's more than the population of most states in the country and several times higher than the population of Europe.
 
This is not a call to action, a public service request or an urgent appeal for empathy and compassion.
 
This is about awareness. The ability to recognise the signs in a friend or a colleague. To just be there for them, and listen actively.
 
It’s a small step, but conversations help ease the psychological burden.
 
© PocketfulofHappiness

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That's the thing about mental health struggles. When you have a broken arm and are wearing a cast, people are sympathetic and often helpful. When you are in a wheelchair, people don't question why you need extra time to do things. But if you have a mental health difficulty, people don't always understand why you need extra support. There's a stigma about mental health, too, that there isn't when it comes to a physical disability. That doubles the challenge for those facing mental health challenges, and I hope society becomes more open to treating those challenges in as upfront and supportive a way as we do things like broken legs.

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Margot, thank you for commenting and adding your valuable insights to the post. In spite of the growing awareness of mental health in the workplace and elsewere, many still suffer in silence. Organisations need to incorporate mental health in their HR policies and programmes in much the same way they do for physical conditions. These can be flexible work timings and special leave among other benefits.

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