In the National Mental Health Survey of India (2015-2016), it was reported that every sixth Indian is in need of mental health help. According to more research, 1 in 4 people in the nation struggle with some form of mental health issues in their lifetime. This, among other alarming statistics, points to the growing incidences of mental illnesses in the country. Experts believe that evolving lifestyles and rising life expectancy are among reasons for the increase in mental illnesses like dementia, depression and anxiety disorders.

Mental Health in India

As per a survey by the World Health Organisation, India is among the most affected countries by schizophrenia, anxiety and bipolar disorder. It was also revealed to be the most depressed country in the world. The study reported that at least 6.5 percent of the Indian population suffers from some form of serious mental health condition, regardless of whether they live in urban or rural areas.

Mental health issues rarely receive enough attention owing to deep-seated stigma and low awareness levels in Indian society. To add to its woes, India has a severe shortage of mental health professionals like psychiatrists, counsellors, psychologists, and doctors. For a long time, Indian insurance companies did not cover mental health. In a move to bridge the gap between physical and mental illnesses, the IRDAI issued a circular to health insurers asking them to cover mental illnesses in August 2018.

Factors Causing Mental Health Issues

In India, about 50 percent of the workforce suffers from some form of stress. This has led to mental health problems like depression among Indian professionals. In the world, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. Globally, mental illnesses also account for 16 percent of the burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19 years. Factors causing them can include low income, low access to educational and employment opportunities, physical or mental trauma, social isolation and discrimination.

Social disadvantages, poor physical health, domestic violence, and neurological conditions can also cause mental health problems. Various lifestyle factors also lead to mental health issues, like lack of sleep, diet, drugs, work-related stress, diets, etc. Poor-quality diets that include consumption of refined cereals, chocolates, sweets, deep-fried food, and processed meat can lead to mental illnesses like depression. This leads to the theory that following a healthy diet
can have a good impact on your mental health.

Treatment and Awareness

Many health and wellness start-ups in India are offering mental health sessions and developing mental health apps in order to help those suffering from work- related stress and poor mental health. This may include meditation techniques or access to online mental health professionals. It is important to raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of mental health in India. De- stigmatising mental illnesses in schools, colleges, and workplaces will ensure that the affected people seek treatment on time.