Would you believe that India accounts for 36.6% of suicides globally? Would you believe that suicide has surpassed maternal mortality as the leading cause of death among women and teenage girls aged 15-19 years? These are rather uncomfortable statistics and perhaps, difficult to believe too. In fact, suicide in youth is a scare that is staring at modern India right in the eye. 

We don’t have to dig deeper to assess the real reason behind these startling numbers. It’s just two words – mental health. The topic of mental health must be one of the most hushed and close to a taboo topic in households and every day conversations even today. There is a clear stigma attached to mental health and prevents anyone from suffering to reach out and seek professional help. 

We all have seen terms like depression or ‘I am depressed’ is loosely used. People still think seeing a therapist means going to a mental hospital. Movies often portray a mental health patient as an eccentric, kaleidoscopic character who may not be any closer to reality. Seemingly happy people can be suicidal too.

But what is causing our youth to be mentally unwell? Well, education, careers, family expectations, gender stereotypes, inability to process their mental state, the stigma around mental health, life transitions, digital life or social media facade, etc are some of the leading stressors for today’s youth. 

However, the larger narrative on mental health has only just started building up, and it needs to steadily grow. With hashtags like #mentalwellbeing or #mentalhealth being openly used by people on social media, prominent public faces coming out about their mental health struggles, and WHO observing World Mental Health Day, things have started to shift a little.

Broadly some of the common mental disorders can be classified as:

  • Major depressive disorder (depression)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder

Not all mental health patients would need to be put on medication, not all need to see a psychiatrist. Visiting a counselor is a good start to see where one stands and needs to go. 

So how can we be there for someone who has a mental health issue and if they need our help at all? Handholding in schools, universities, and workplaces is a must to help anyone process that kind of stress they are dealing with. Helping them deal with stress can be that one big difference between someone living and deciding to take his own life. Of course, as a society, we need to practice more kindness and empathy.