In the USA, May is observed as National Mental Health Month. For much of the rest of the world, October 10th is the Mental Health Day, and some countries like Australia mark all of October as Mental Health Month. In India, the central agencies do mark October 10th, but there is no specific mental health month as such.
Whether a day or a month, the aim is to increase awareness of mental health issues, the need for assessment & care, and to destigmatise mental health. Mental health conditions tend to be given the short end of the stick, with a little more than a sneer and judgmental comments such as, "You just have to decide," or worse, "You are just looking for an excuse for your laziness."
In reality, mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety are very real and quite common. If understood and addressed, recovery is quite possible.
Fact is, quite often, we speak of mental health issues as what the mythical 'others' likely have. When the MHA publishes statistics that say 20% of all Americans are likely to have a mental health issue each year, how many do you think would pause to consider if they might be among the lot? Irrespective of nationality, I would suppose that we ourselves do not want to think we may have an issue, while it is more comfortable to look at others and say they might have an issue.
There is too much of an expectation we have from ourselves that we must, at all times, be perfectly well especially mentally, even if not physically. And that, needless to say, is just irrational. Mental health issues can happen to anyone no matter what race, age, class or community. While certain social situations do create greater distress, even the most privileged of communities are not immune to mental health issues.
So, what can one do? The simplest thing to do is to a quick self-check. Mental Health America has a great set of specific self-use tools that can help you decide if you might have an issue and if you cold use some help. Go ahead, click on the image and take a few minutes to check in on yourself.
You owe it to yourself.
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.