When Sushant Singh Rajput, a widely celebrated Bollywood actor, recently committed suicide, it stirred up conversations about mental health on media platforms across India. Everyone, from politicians and activists to celebrities and businesses, seemed to acknowledge the importance of mental health through social media outbursts and in their condolences for Rajput’s family. However, just a few weeks later, the conversations have stopped. But if so many people do truly care about the issue, why is it that most of India is still oblivious to our collectively deteriorating mental health?
Even today, mental health is not deemed nearly as important as physical health in many cultures. Even for those who do recognize the signs of mental illnesses, the issue has taken a backseat in our world’s current landscape. However, that is about to change.
Experts believe that as a result of the isolation and lockdowns imposed during the pandemic, a mental health crisis is headed our way. In the coming months, if it hasn’t already, the world is going to see a rising surge in mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. There has already been a significant increase in suicide rates and domestic violence in countries across the world due to the lockdown and isolation.
Ms. Catherine de Swardt, personal counselor, has continued to see students outside of school through Zoom, even during summer break. “I’ve been seeing as many people, but there’s been a bit of a change. Some people I used to see regularly in school, I haven’t seen now, and some people I’ve never seen before have contacted me with specific issues that have come up during quarantine and coronavirus,” she said. She also noted that there are now more boys seeking her help now than there were in school.
Many of us are lucky enough to be in good physical health, surrounded by our families in the comfort of our homes. We might not be on the frontlines battling the virus, or facing major financial distress, or involved in the anti-racism protests on the streets of American cities. However, we are constantly consuming bad news about the world around us through media and the internet. As days blend into one another, and we feed our brains more bad news every day, our uncertainty about the future only seems to be increasing. Unfortunately, uncertainty triggers anxiety.
Moreover, our increased screentime has created many other problems, especially for young people. In an attempt to make up for the lack of real social contact and to keep busy, teenagers and young people spend hours on social media. For most people, this increase in screentime has also led to a disruption in our sleep cycles. The lack of sleep is also a known cause of mental health issues.
“Because people are bored, they may be doing unhealthy things on the internet [like watching an unhealthy amount of pornography]. If you are looking at more and more disturbing things, then you are hardwiring your brain to need that disturbing stuff,” Ms. de Swardt said. According to her, this can lead to intrusive thoughts and images in our brains, which can, in turn, lead to anxiety.
However, as teenagers, we don’t just struggle with issues related to sleep deprivation and an unhealthy amount of screentime, but also with constant pressure. Most of us are under pressure to live up to the expectations of our families or our peers, and sometimes our own. What we don’t seem to realize is the impact that this can have on our mental and emotional wellbeing.
We are all longing for the world to return back to a semblance of what it used to be. However, if there’s a mental health crisis coming, all of us need to play our part. If mental health is still a taboo in your family, start conversations about it. If you think you’re struggling, ask for help.
Author’s Note: The counseling department at Woodstock has created a website that has resources for students as well as parents to aid in your mental wellbeing. If you struggle with mental health issues and don’t know what to do, contact a counselor, or visit this website. If you feel that you do not have the privacy to speak to a counsellor over Zoom at home, but would still like their help, email them.
Janvi Poddar is the Editor-in-chief of The Woodstocker
Edited by Aadya Aryal