Skip to main content

Important to situate lot of mental health problems within the wider social crisis

By Bharat Dogra 

Our troubled world appears to be progressing much more in terms of estimating and measuring problems than in terms of understanding and solving them. This wider truth appears to be particularly applicable to mental health problems.
The capacity to recognize mental health problems at an early stage is much higher in more prosperous societies which also have much better access to mental health facilities. Hence it was hoped that with early diagnosis and treatment, these countries would show the way in minimizing mental health problems. Unfortunately the recent experience appears to be exactly the opposite in many of these societies as alarming indicators of a very serious mental health situation are being reported.
In October 2021 three leading child health organizations in the USA issued a statement warning that a child mental health emergency already exists in the USA. In April 2022 the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended that children as young as 8 should be screened for anxiety.
In September 2011 the then largest study on mental health in Europe found that “Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illness, with almost 165 million people or 38% of population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia” ( Reuters report-- Nearly 40% of Europeans suffer mental illness).
In 2015, in Japan suicide was listed as the number one cause of death among children in the 10-18 age-group. In much of the western world this is the number two cause. Over half a million people in Japan (541,000) are identified as hikikomori--social recluses who withdraw from all contacts, sometimes for years.
In the USA 1 in 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders. In 2019, a typical year, according to official data, 12 million Americans thought about suicide and 1.4 million attempted suicide. Suicide ideation affects 4.6% of population in a year and has seen steady increase during the last decade.
According to a statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association in October 2021, “Rates of childhood mental health concerns and suicide rose steadily between 2010 and 2020 and by 2018 suicide was the second leading leading cause of deaths for youth age 10-24. The pandemic has intensified the crisis: across the country we have witnessed dramatic increase in the Emergency Department visits to all mental health emergencies including suspected suicide rate.”
According to Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ youth in the USA covered in their study had experienced suicide thoughts. In the context of bullying, not just the victims but also the perpetrators of bullying have a higher suicide rate. By the age of 13, a third of bullies have already considered ending their life, according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Children living in families having guns have suicide rates four times higher than those living in families without a gun.
According to UNICEF annual report on children for 2021, in Europe in the 15-19 age group, 19% boys and 16% girls are affected by mental health disorders. In the 10-19 year age-group 9 million teenagers in Europe are affected by mental health disorders, one half of them by depression and anxiety. A WHO report said in 2020 that 1 out of 4 children in Europe are affected by nervousness, irritation and problems in getting to sleep. 35% had started drinking alcohol by age 15. Only 41% of boys and 33% of girls said they were mentally healthy. A German health insurance company DAK stated in 2019 that 1 in 4 German children were affected by mental illness problems.
While generally the focus is more on children of poorer families, some other studies indicate the serious situation in prosperous households as well. A study of 15 year old British girls in more prosperous sections of society revealed a high and increasing trend of mental health problems-- startling increase from 24% to 38% from 1987 to 1999.
Clearly such disturbing increase in mental health problems needs to be better understood in the context of wider problems and changes in society. We should not forget that mere calls for increasing mental health budgets and wider coverage of mental health care, although certainly needed, have not been adequate for preventing a worsening situation. These should be backed by more and better preventive steps rooted in a more holistic understanding of the crisis.
In particular it is important to situate a lot of the mental health problems within the wider social crisis. Some components of the social crisis which need to be emphasized in this context are –increasing economic inequalities, rising costs of living and economic difficulties for a significant number of people, worries over such basic needs as housing rents and mortgages, increasing spread of consumerist culture and saturation advertising of seemingly desirable products , overselling of expensive life-style accessible only to some and spread of cultural values which seek life’s fulfillment in accessing it. A culture of celebrating narrowly defined success and condemning all too soon any inability to access this narrowly defined success adds to this. Discriminations on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, color, faith, gender and sexual orientation etc. are also important factors. Widely pervasive feelings of dominance and the violence inherent in them can be very hurtful, as seen in domestic, school, workplace or street violence. Breakdown of social relationships, relating these more to sensual gratification and selfish instincts instead of more durable, sincere and affectionate ties, can be very distressing and disrupting, increasing a deeper loneliness within the multiple relationships and partying of a society always linked to and influenced much by social media.
All this is partially relevant, at a different level, in less prosperous societies as well, but in many of these, with high levels of poverty and inequalities, what is most tragic is the almost shutting down of doors and opportunities for many as they are exposed to more ups and downs of highly globalized, linked up systems, something which can be more disruptive than the more traditional forms of poverty.
It is important to understand that several socio-economic trends, which have been normalized by society as commonplace, can be much more distressing and disruptive than is commonly believed, resulting in a big increase in mental health problems, which concerns us here, but in addition also in some other serious problems like crime and confused, irrational groupings. If more than one in five or one in six in a society have mental health problems, it may be more relevant to ask if the society is sick, not so much the individuals, as individuals may be merely manifesting the scars of society’s sickness. Heal the society, therefore and most individuals within it will heal too.
---
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Protect Earth Now. His recent books include ‘A Day in 2071’, ‘Planet in Peril' and ‘Man over Machine—A Path to Peace'

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h