Mental Health: Still a taboo?

”I am mentally and emotionally drained. I think I need some professional help.”

“Are you serious? Just because you want to avoid your current situation, you don’t have to create such drama for that. “

“I don’t feel all right. Why am I never good enough? Am I a burden? If I was good enough, no ne would’ve ever had any complain from me.”

“Come on, no one is complaining. And if someone scolded you over something, it doesn’t mean you have to take it too seriously. Now stop crying and don’t over think.”

“I am over-anxious these days. I don’t understand what is stressing me out. I just feel depressed all the time but I don’t know why. I just need someone to talk to.”

“Haha, depressed? I guess people don’t understand the meaning of this word. And you’re just a teen. Nowadays everyone is using this word as if it’s nothing. You don’t have to worry it’s just a phase. Chill out!”

These are some conversations that take place more commonly than you might think. And in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, there have been some graver scenarios which truly destroy a sufferer who is already so broken.

Yes, it is fairly true that people over-look the meaning of the word ‘depression’. People forget that this feeling is real. People are not aware that depression can exist in all ages.

Artwork by John Kenn – An illustration of how depression haunts an individual.

“Self-harm is an act of cowards. It is stupid and people are glamorizing it and do it to feel fancy.”

You might have heard people saying that. Well, no. It is not an act of cowards. Nobody likes to show off that they’re into self-harm, but if they are showing so, then it is a cry for help. It means that they are actually looking for someone to take them out of this situation because they are too shattered to do it themselves. In fact, when a person takes his own life, it takes a lot of courage. Everyone wants to move on. Everyone wants to lead a contented life. No one would want to leave behind the people and things they love no matter what, but if someone does so, it does not make them selfish. It does not make them coward or does not prove that they didn’t have anything in their life to live for.

Actually, it takes too much for someone to take their own life. And holding back takes even more courage. Sometimes, only staying strong doesn’t help. Sometimes the sufferer actually needs help. Sometimes they need to know that it is okay to feel this way. They need to know that it is absolutely normal to feel this way, yet help them gradually. Just talking to someone who is going through such things is not enough. Yes, it can help to some extent but, at some point, professional help is needed.

The sad reality is, parents are also not too serious about it, and otherwise, parents can be the best counselors for their children. Even if parents are the only ones who can take care of their child like no one, this aspect is often missed. Mental health is not given much importance. The support of healthy emotions is not neither promoted nor appreciated. And the darker side is that it not only results in depressed and suicides in children, teens and young adults, but it also gives awful thoughts in someone’s mind, and this may lead them to criminal activities.

The thing is, we need to talk. We need to talk to our children from a very young age. We need to gain their trust. We want them to share everything with us no matter what it is about, without being hesitant or without wondering what their parents might think of them. If you observe something unusual with your child, it’s time to be alert and be attentive about his/her activities, behavior and overall everyday activities.

There are many schools in other countries where counselors are available for students. Students can share anything with them, and most of the time it helps. We too need to make it common for our people. Mental health is no joke. We need to be careful about people around us. We don’t know what they might be going through. We have to accept that suicides in Pakistan exist. We have to face the reality that depression and anxiety exist. We have to accept that a stable mental health is one of the most important aspects of one’s life.


Why do we even think that it might be a taboo?

Because we don’t talk about it as openly as we should. We think that if our daughters or our sons seek professional help it will label them as mentally unstable. Seriously? Are labels more important to us than the lives of our children?

On this World Mental Health Day, I really wish things change. I wish for things to change for good. I wish people become more tolerant, more accepting about issues they don’t easily accept. I wish more people are given awareness about it. And I wish it helps more lives to be saved.

I could go on and on. But I would end at how we can make things better as an individual. All you can do is to be kind. Just look around, and if you see someone disturbed or gloomy, your act of kindness might give them a dawn of hope. If you see someone getting bullied, help them out and make the bully confront their acts. This not only will help the victim, but might also make the bully realize how such acts can affect someone. If you see a child who is usually very cheerful but is quite and upset now, talk to him/her, try to make them feel good. If something seems too fishy, talk to their parents. If parents don’t take it seriously, make them realize that it actually is serious. And it’s about you, too. If you ever feel down, remember that it is not the end of the world. Remember that you are not alone. There are people who are always there for you. Talk, share, try, cry, just don’t give up.


Hafi Yousuf

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