Restrictions imposed on public life to combat the spread of have had a terrible effect on people’s mental health and well-being in India. anxiety among people since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, says a new study. The study surveyed over 10,000 Indians to understand how they have been coping with the new normal. Conducted by Delhi-based The Center of Healing (TCOH), a preventive healthcare platform, the study noted that stress and anxiety levels have been on the rise with 74 per cent and 88 per cent Indians suffering from stress and anxiety respectively.
Ever since the pandemic hit India over nine months back, followed by an unprecedented lockdown, mental health experts have pointed out how stress and anxiety are on the rise. According to the study, 57 per cent respondents were suffering from mild stress, 11 per cent were feeling moderately stress, four per cent were facing moderately severe symptoms of stress and two per cent reported severe stress.
Mental morbidity — physical and psychological deterioration — has many manifestations. These may include mood disorders, depression, post traumatic stress disorders, drug abuse, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety and suicide attempts. Experts stress that while it can be triggered in childhood, it mostly manifests itself in children at the onset of adolescence.
Almost one out of five adolescents in India suffers from some level of mental morbidity, says a 2019 study conducted by the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences. Male teenagers from urban, nuclear family backgrounds constituted the majority of its sample survey. They showed risk behaviour such as substance abuse, casual sex and speed driving and were found to be often in conflict with their family members and the law.
The post-COVID landscape will be a fertile breeding ground for an increase in many health issues, leading to an overall rise in morbidity, suicides and the number of disabilities linked to mental health,” Nelson Vinod Moses, of the Suicide Prevention India Foundation, told DW.
Moses believes that another public health crisis is brewing in the country and that it could perhaps unleash more death and despair than that caused by COVID-19 itself.
Mental health needs a multipronged approach, involving the creation of social, psychological and economic safety nets,” Moses said. “We need a large-scale public health campaign that tackles mental health and suicide in the same way we attacked polio and AIDS.
Mental health professionals believe there are several reasons why mental morbidity is on the rise among adolescents. Some of the major factors are substance abuse, family conflict, relocation, peer pressure, peer-to-peer relationships and performance pressure in academics and other fields. Internet addiction is another problem that minors grapple with.
The Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA) was passed in 2017, three years after the National Mental Health Policy (NMHP). While the MHCA elaborates on provisions for the rights of mentally ill people, it gives little space to children and adolescents. All responsibility and authority when it comes to decision making for minors facing mental health issues have been placed in the hands of their guardians and care givers. In many countries such as the US, Britain and the Netherlands, adolescents, especially in the age group of 16-18 years, have the right to participate in decisions regarding their mental health.