Addressing Mental Illness

What is a mental illness? In common man’s term, it could probably be defined as the lack of balance of mind or brain. In other words inappropriate thought process and action that result in the affected individual’s failure to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. Early indicators are changes in mood, personality, habits and social interaction.
Medically there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the most common types are:  clinical depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Like all other illness, mental illnesses too vary in severity ranging from moderate to severe.
This could develop due to external stresses, internal chemical imbalances and genetic factors or after some accident. But many affected individual succeed in coming out of this illness and learn to cope with the conditions with proper care and treatment.
However, the biggest obstacles that prevent people seek professional help and treatment is the stigma associated with mental illness.
The most common are anxiety and depressive disorders which are more extreme forms of feelings of anxiety, tension or sadness that most of us normally experience. In India, there are very few people who would or have access to medical professionals when faced with such conditions.
In the place where we grew up, I observed something that is probably unique. We had sadhus and sanyasis associated with various sects of Hinduism. They dedicated their life for their Gurus as well as the service of mankind. Some of them were truly learned and whenever any disciple had feeling of extreme sadness they used to use situation out of the holy scriptures and pacify the sadness and help them back into the normal walk of life. I am sure such pious man existed across all religions.

There was a stigma associated with going to a psychiatrist but there was no barrier reaching out to such gurus.
Today there are more impersonators, quacks and opportunist in the society making it extremely difficult to trust. Medical supports are available but the society still has to evolve to embrace the sick and able alike with open arms.



  1. I so agree about going to a guru and not a psychiatrist!

    1. I did not put it as an either or proposition. A guru with knowledge and vision could pull out his/her disciple from distress without even letting them know.
      And there is no stigma attached. But professional help is always better

  2. at times the mental illness is unbriddled as there is no one to give us an unbiased and objective hearing and also show us the other point of view. We need people who can zoom out from the current situation and show us the bigger perspective. The 'gurus', the 'elders' or even the cousins in a joint family set up provide us with that. In that sense they are helpful.
    Then there are mental illnesses that need medical attention and just counselling does not work. Have you heard of the new fad in India - there are careers being made as life coaches."gyan diye taka uparjon korche loke. Retirement er pore beshi bhabte hobena."

    1. The society is being driven by money and desire for more than desire for basic. That is the root cause of all problems.
      I think the problem of depression has increased many fold and there is no support structure.
      It would be great if someone choose to make me a life coach. The risk is "gyan er bhandar upur korle jadi kichu na beroi"

  3. You are so right here.....There are unethical practices that prevent people from taking the right care. Gurus/charlatans make money by duping people and the stigma and incomplete knowledge about mental issues poses big obstacle for those who really need help.

    1. That is the trouble. We dismantled the earlier structure of our society and removed the safety net of extended and joint families. On the other hand we do not have the clinical support and the social maturity to accept medical illness as any other ailment requiring medical attention


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