Sneha (name changed), a Delhi University alumnus, was in 2nd year of college, when she was diagnosed with depression. Since then, she has been fighting with depression alone. She didn’t talk about it to anyone. Therefore, neither her parents nor her friends know about this.
“I had no one to talk to. Nobody was ready to listen as to how I was feeling, what I was feeling. Whenever I tried to talk, everybody used to say the same thing that this is just a phase it will pass, read books, watch movies, do this, do that. So, there was no one to lend an ear, who would just sit and listen to me.
I even approached counsellors assuming that at least they would listen to me. But all they did was to prescribe medicines without listening to the whole story. I went from one counsellor to the other but to no results. Because in India we don’t consider mental health </ a big issue, nobody talks about it, as if it doesn’t exist. People always try to apply their theory but nobody is ready to talk, nobody is ready to listen.
And this is what I want to change and work for, I want people to at least start talking about it,” says Sneha. She lauds World Health Organization’s effort to initiate a talk about depression.
WHO has launched a programme called “Depression: let’s talk”, with the objective to create awareness about it. It is a one-year programme launched on October 10, 2016 (World Mental Health Day), to help people across countries. WHO has come up with posters and hand-outs to start the talk in a creative manner. Posters represent two people talking about depression. The handouts give detailed information about depression. All WHO member countries are a part of it.
WHO estimates that between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression has increased by nearly 50%. And close to 10% of world’s population is affected by it. Which will only increase if proper steps are not taken to curb it. There are many factors which could lead to depression, it could be a conflict, disaster, poverty, illness or crisis in personal and professional life.
“Depression does not discriminate,’’ says Tathagat, a 10th grader, who has been fighting depression since he was in class 8. He writes about it, on his blog. His mother helps him to cope with it. But his father doesn’t consider it a health issue. Writing and talking about it, helps him to fight it out. He emphasises on the importance of talking about it. Depression often leads to severe consequences and can be a cause of complete destruction of personal and professional life. In severe cases, it can also lead to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds in India. It also increases the risk of other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
The stigma attached to depression makes it difficult for people going through it, to come out and talk. Talking about it can really help the person going through this. There are many like Sneha and Tathagat, who are suffering in darkness alone. It is our responsibility as fellow humans to help them in the fight against depression.