Mental Health: The Need For Acceptance In Youngsters

Mental health awareness has improved compared to the recent past, but addressing it for the path ahead in the lives of youngsters requires more attention

We shouldn’t allow ourselves to believe that just because our social media feed has mental health and wellbeing content, mental health awareness is spreading. Dr Samir Parikh, MBBS, DPM, MD(psy), Director, Fortis National Mental Health Programme, Fortis Healthcare agreed with this at BW Wellbeing 40 Under 40 Awards on Wednesday.

He further conveyed that we should not allow ourselves to believe that the era of mental health awareness has arrived, though the condition is a lot better than it was earlier, so we still have a long way to go. 

Highlighting the progeny of mental health issues Dr Parikh said, “50 per cent of all mental illnesses have their onset in adolescence, which means if we started focusing on young people’s mental health in school and adolescence, we will be able to make an impact on 50 per cent of adult mental health concerns.” Adding to this, he delineated that bullying has been identified as one of the most significant factors leading to mental health issues. He also said that the impact of cyber-bullying is tantamount to traditional bullying.

In order to resolve this problem, Dr Parikh said, “Media literacy and mental health should be incorporated in school curriculums where students not only learn to look for people in distress but also learn to listen to people in distress in a positive manner and in turn link them to a solution.”

Commenting on the impact of social media on the youth of today, Dr Parikh said the pressure of conformity is real in young people. “Today, rather than the human interface or person to person interface, we have become text and social media oriented, which impedes our ability to understand feelings. We cannot change it, but we can at least help them navigate this change,” he added.

“The solution to mental health is not with experts like me, especially when we have a 300 per cent shortage of experts. We can accept that the solution to mental health is everybody recognising that they are equal stakeholders when it comes to the wellbeing of society," he expounded his views over the solution to mental health issues.

He concluded by appealing to the audience to raise the bar of their own acceptance of mental health concerns so that young people can talk about how they feel and express it to their parents, teachers and friends.


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