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The Effects of Digitalism on Children

Around the world, digital technologies have rapidly become an active part of everyday life. There has been a seismic shift in the way people interact with their environments, from work to leisure, from healthcare to food & grocery management. Whether it is through social media, payment wallets or apps for a plethora of needs, we have digital technologies to aid us in most aspects of our lives. This is true for children as well. Due to the restrictions imposed upon large sections of the world population during the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous schools had to move towards online education – further digitalizing children’s life world over. 

Children today have been a part of the digital world for their whole lives, unlike people born before the 2000s. They are active digital consumers, even at a relatively young age, interacting with a number of new and interactive digital technologies. They are almost always ‘connected’ to the digital world – depending on digital services for everything from school to social interactions. This level of digital interaction comes with a number of positives and negatives. Children could use these technologies to further express themselves, to learn more (at a faster speed), to connect socially with others their own age, and to learn a more globalized approach to life. However, there are several drawbacks to letting children interact with these emerging digital technologies – they are often targeted by online predators, cyber bullies and harmful content, that they may not be able to find their way past. 

Advantages of digitalization on children’s mental health 

  1. Increased IQ and EQ levels

Children around the world are showing higher levels of IQ & EQ than their predecessors. Many experts around the world attribute this to the rise of digital technologies and the access that children have to it. The increase in the number of technological devices and applications used by children can serve to increase their stimuli to a range of complex problems. 

  1. Educational & mental skill development

Digital technologies can have a positive impact on a child’s development right from adolescence, if they are exposed to the appropriate technologies. Educational and instructional tools can help children develop cognitive skills early on, by allowing them to interact with technologies that can have multiple benefits. Games designed to help children with memory, attention, language, math, science and more, can help children improve in areas where they may be lacking. 

  1. Enhanced learning opportunities & advanced problem solving

Children today have access to content on the Internet that would otherwise be extremely hard to access. Instead of having to depend on schools, libraries or after school tutorials, children can download any extra modules, work sheets, video tutorials and more, from the comfort of their living rooms. They can interact with other children, teachers, parents or experts online, through various apps and websites that will provide them with the opportunity to learn whenever and wherever they way. Visual design, technical drawing, coding, Web 3.0 and statistical programs help children develop both creative and cognitive skills. 

  1. Emergency management

One of the most positive effects of digitalization on children is that it helps parents keep track of their children, even in case of an emergency.  Mobile phones, smart watches, tablets, and more come equipped with tracking software, so you can locate your child if they appear lost or confused. By using alarm features on these devices, parents can make sure their children are trained to take medication on time, or to stay in touch in case of a medical emergency. 

  1. Critical thinking development

With the advent of interactive games, mental exercises and language tutorials, children can develop critical thinking skills much earlier than ever before. By exposing children to different technologies that can boost strategic thinking, parents can help their children think for themselves, while solving complex problems right from a young age. 

  1. Engaged through entertainment

Parents can find a wide range of technologies that can provide their children with informational content that is most interesting to them, and thus they can learn while they have fun! Parents can use digital technologies to help their children with a variety of problems, ranging from common boredom to attention deficit disorders. Children can enjoy their leisure time, by working on activities that can help them build better mental health, instead of focusing on negative things. 

  1. Staying socially connected

With the advent of social media, children can now stay in touch with the world around them easier than ever. They can keep in touch with their family and friends, at the click of a button, thus expanding their social connectivity and reach. If monitored properly, digital technologies can help children connect with others within their own age-group, who share their same interests, much easier than ever before. 

Disadvantages of digitalization on children’s mental health 

  1. Lower attention spans

The extreme use of digital technologies such as tablets, laptops and tablets can lead to difficulty in concentration and can cause distractions to children. The misuse of apps and technologies aimed at educating children can actually result in a lack of focus, short attention span and other learning disabilities in children, especially if experts have not certified the apps or technologies.

  1. Minimized ‘real world’ interactions

A number of digital technologies available to children tend to ‘gameify’ learning, by rewarding children with levels, stars, and more. Children who do not like socializing are more likely to distract themselves in these virtual worlds where they may feel more comfortable. However, this will just serve as a temporary problem to a problem that will only grow as they become older. Children must be encouraged to maintain a balance between their online and real world interactions, so that they learn to get along with people in various settings. 

  1. Increased aggression levels

Children tend to have colorful imaginations that can easily be manipulated by online interactions. Games in general could increase aggression levels in children, since they could lead to frustration in children who are not equipped to handle failure yet. Violence and frightening images depicted in games or social media, could lead to unhealthy emotions building up in children. 

  1. Health problems lead to mental health problems

Overexposing children to digital technologies can lead to a number of physical health problems that can have a negative impact on their mental health. Some of the most common problems include: neck pains, skeletal distortion/bad body posture, numbness in the arm, hand or fingers, vision problems, sleep issues and obesity. If children use technology to offset physical activities in real life, it can have an extremely adverse effect on their physical and mental health wellbeing. 

  1. Cyber bullying, abuse and other security risks

While social media can help children stay entertained, it can also lead to cyber bullying, which is a common problem in the digital age. The anonymity of the Internet gives rise to a number of harmful comments and posts from all corners of the world. Children could be bullied over their appearance, number of social contacts, interests, mental health and more. It is important to monitor children’s social media in order to make sure predators aren’t targeting them.

  1. Risk of depression, social anxiety and fear of missing out

It is easy for children to compare themselves and their lives to those of other people online. This can cause a high level of social anxiety and even depression in children, who may turn to social media in order to feel better, thus continuing the cycle. Instead of them falling deeper into the social media hole, it is important to bring them out of it and base them in reality. In extreme cases, it is important to seek out the help of an expert who can help your child cope with their difficulties. 

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How can you help children identify and tackle mental health issues?

Taking care of your child’s overall health involves making sure their physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and social needs are met. Usually parents hope to find the best school they can afford, the best tuition and after-school activities, nurturing friends or social groups, and positive influences in their children’s lives. However, in our society, we often neglect taking care of our children’s mental health needs. Good mental health can be the difference between a child succeeding and being happy, while learning and acclimatizing faster than those with poor mental health. 

How do mental health problems affect children?

Mental health problems can affect the way a child thinks, how they cope with difficult situations, their moods and emotions, and their ability to form or want social connections. Mental health problems in childhood can delay &and disrupt a child’s normal life, causing behavioral problems, a lack of social skills, emotional stunting, cycles of negative feelings, anxiety about their place in the world, and much more. These problems can distress, antagonize, and isolate children; these children have a much harder time coping with reality than children with good mental health. 

Much like physical health, your child’s mental health will change over a period of time, which makes it important to keep a track of. It is important to be able to sit down with your child and help them build habits that will contribute towards a healthy mental health balance. Some habits, such as a regulated sleep cycle, brushing teeth twice a day, eating nutritious and healthy food, exercising regularly, and socializing with other people regularly, can help children learn lifelong lessons in how to maintain a healthy mental health balance. 

However, something to note is that mental health problems can be quite common during childhood. By learning how to spot the problem early on, you can ensure that your child gets help sooner rather than later, because the faster you address these problems, the faster you can work together to find solutions. 

How do you identify problems in children?

It can be tricky to distinguish between regular hormonal changes, growing pains and emotional fluctuations from a full-blown mental health problem. This is why it’s important to seek the help of a professional when you cannot pinpoint the exact problem. However, here are a few things you can do with your child to help them identify if they have a mental health problem.

  • Sit down with your child and talk to them about their problems. Ask them questions about their feelings, their thoughts, their worries & anxieties, and so on. Pay close attention to what they say, take notes and watch out for any warning signals they may be giving off verbally and non-verbally. 
  • Listen, listen, listen! Make sure you listen to your child, instead of talking over them. Sometimes, we have the tendency to come up with preconceived ideas about how our child feels.  It is important to put these notions aside and instead just process what they say to you. Even though you might have ideas and input, see what your child feels comfortable with – you might find all they want is a shoulder to cry or, or someone to commiserate with them. 
  • Take regular notes about your child’s feelings and emotions. Has your child been feeling extra moody or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks? Have you notices severe mood swings or big changes in behavior? This may mean your child is experiencing a mental health problem. Look into other aspects of their life like: 
  • Do they regularly have problems making friends or creating relationships with other people?
  • Do sudden feelings of worry, fear, or anxiety overwhelm them in situations that shouldn’t?
  • Are they unusually irritable or explosively angry?
  • Do you notice sleep issues or food related issues?
  • Are they experiencing weight fluctuations or sudden illnesses (stomach aches/headaches/nausea) without cause?
  • Are they isolating from other people, forming bonds with unhealthy elements or avoiding school/activities?
  • Are they using drugs or alcohol?
  • Do they talk or joke about death or talk about hurting themselves/wanting to die?
  • Have they stopped doing things they once enjoyed?
  • Are they spending an unhealthy amount of time on social media or digital devices?

Answering these questions could give you a more thorough insight into your child’s life, and can help you make notes that you can share with a professional therapist. 

What can you (and your family) do to encourage healthy mental health habits?

  • Encourage, validate and accept.  Encourage your child to share their feelings & learn more about their emotions. Validate their feelings & emotions, by agreeing with them instead of arguing – tell them that you hear them, and you understand them. Accept their emotions, thoughts, feelings and ideas, and reward them for being honest with you.
  • Come up with coping solutions together. Make your child an important part of the solution process. Make sure that they know this – by feeling like their voice is being heard, they may open up to new ideas that you may bring up to them as well. Every child is different, and children may have to find different ways to cope that works for them. 
  • Enforce healthy habits in your household. Children learn from the adults around them, if you have unhealthy habits they are sure to pick up on them, so try to set healthy habits for your entire family to follow.  This can be something as simple as planning healthy meals for everyone at home, and can be as complex as developing healthy ways to deal with frustration. If someone at home uses curse words or violence to deal with unfavorable situations, you can be sure your child will learn to do this as well. 
  • Build strong and positive relationships between your children and other members of your family. Make sure that your children learn from other role models around the family. Monitor these interactions and make sure you keep your children away from traumatic interactions.
  • Establish regular/weekly family time activities. You can set aside a particular amount of time per week to allow for activities like game nights, educational trips, beach days, and more. Ask your child what they would like to do, and make them a part of the decision process so that they feel validated. 
  • Reduce stress, conflict and negative emotions around the house. Teach your family healthy coping mechanisms to use at home around children. Instead of shouting, hurling abuses, or resorting to violence, you can all sit down and talk together. Your child should feel safe and at ease within their environment, and this is a good way to express it to the rest of your family. 
  • Limit time with screens, and spend quality time out in nature. Social media and digital media can have an adverse affect on your child’s development. Restrict their use of digital devices, monitor how they spend their time online, and provide them with fun & healthy alternatives. You can take the whole family or just your child on outdoor adventures once a week; maybe even encourage them to learn how to enjoy being in nature. 

The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to ask for professional help, whether your child needs it or someone else in your family does. Don’t shame or blame anyone for seeking help, be there for him or her instead, and offer whatever help you can! If you need to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist, please don’t wait; get the process started at the earliest!

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Uncategorized

10 ways to support your child’s mental health needs

Dealing with mental health problems can be a long and trying process for most people, more so when it’s a child in question. Parents have to be able to account for their child’s mental health and wellbeing just as they would take care of their physical health. If a child breaks their ankle, you should take them to the doctor. Similarly, if they display aggravated signs of mental distress, it is important to get them help immediately. However, there are a number of ways in which you can help your child if they show signs of mental health problems. 

How can you identify when your child is in distress?

There are a few markers that are noticeable when a child’s mental health is deteriorating. These include changes in: 

  • sleep, appetite & mood
  • concentration & attention levels 
  • thought patterns & topics of conversation
  • interest & engagement in regular/daily activities, 
  • Social interaction and self-care 
  • attendance or academic performance

Please keep in mind as you go through this process that most kids go through a lot of changes during their adolescence and youth, which can have an impact on how they express and control their feelings and thoughts. Thus, it can be common to observe marked behavioral differences between developmental stages. It’s critical to recognize the differences between growing pains and the early indicators of mental health issues.

Know the early warning signs of mental health problems!

Some of the early warning signs to keep an eye out for are: 

  • Inability to be soothed or calmed down
  • Lack of regular sleep & awake cycles 
  • Serious issues with feeding – both with eating too much and eating too little. 
  • Body dysmorphic issues
  • Thoughts that alienate them from reality 
  • Self-harm/suicidal ideations
  • Misbehavior with other children or adults
  • Emotional Stunting
  • Inability to communicate problems

All children experience some of these problems at different times. But you should worry when your child’s problems get in the way of his or her daily life. In these times, support from parents, caregivers, and families is extremely critical, like at child care, sports practice, or other children’s activities. Hitting or biting others, lashing out, and throwing tantrums are common behaviors for toddlers who cannot verbalize their needs and feelings. Some young kids may always seem bored or uninterested in what’s going on around them, and they may withdraw into themselves. Some children may not process feelings and emotions well, or they may distance themselves from normal relationships. Instead of blaming or abandoning them, we must provide these children with positive ways and outlets to redirect their feelings and actions, and support and understanding when they need it, even if it feels counterintuitive. 

How do you support your child’s mental health needs?

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, first consult your child’s primary health care provider. Describe the behaviors that concern you, show them the notes you have taken, and make an appointment for your child to talk to them if it’s needed. You should also talk to your child’s teachers, friends, relatives, or other caregivers (if possible) to see if they have noticed any startling changes in your child’s behavior and demeanor. Make sure you share all this information with your primary health care provider, and that you talk to your child about it – without making them feel like there is something wrong with them.

However, a lot of the work needed to provide support to children falls to the parent or primary caregiver. Each child is different, yet there are a few solutions that can help you deal with most of the less serious mental health problems your child could face. Here are a few ways in which you can support your child’s mental health needs: 

  • Provide them with ample love and affection. If your child likes hugs, give them hugs. If they don’t give them high fives or fist bumps. Create your own way of showing love based on what they like. Read them a story when they go to bed. Give them encouragement through the day; regardless of what they have done/how well they have done it. Be their cheerleader, be their rock, and be someone they can count on when times are tough.
  • Teach your child how to empathize and work with others.  It is important to teach your child to work with others, so that they can learn valuable socializing skills early on. By teaching them about empathy and the importance of teamwork, you can help your child learn to help the people around them, which will only boost their self worth.  
  • Engage with activities that they love. Take time out of your day, however busy you may be, to interact with your child regarding things that they like to do. Listen to them talk about their favorite TV shows, help them with activities that they like, learn from them and educate yourself about their interests. You can make them feel like their life is just as important as yours is. 
  • Show them that everyone makes mistakes, and that it is human to do so.  It’s okay to point out mistakes that your child makes, as long as you aren’t aggressive about it. Instead tell them about your own experiences and how they can rectify the mistake, in a friendly manner. Don’t be afraid to humanize yourself, because it shows them that everyone is human and that mistakes are a part of life. 
  • Encourage joyful and healthy physical activities. Teach your child positive ways to express themselves by using their bodies. Enroll them in sports or creative activities, so that they have an outlet for their negative emotions. Let them play outside, dance to music, swim, jump and more, as long as they are being safe. 
  • Help them set reasonable & achievable goals. Children need to be introduced to the idea of setting achievable goals. Instead of focusing on long-term goals, help them focus on short-term goals that they can complete without a lot of trouble. By setting reasonable goals, you can show them how to handle stress, and negotiate tough situations. 
  • Reinforce their self-worth & self-view with positivity. Allow your child to make decisions by themselves, so that they get used to being able to trust themselves. Whenever they feel down, or you notice a drop in their self-esteem, remind them of all the times they were able to transcend a problem. Show them that the world is better with them in it, and that your life is richer because they are around.
  • Help them put things into perspective and maintain a positive outlook on life. When your child is going through something especially painful or traumatic, sit with them and talk it through with them when they are ready. Contextualize the situation, empathize with them, and work together to gain a long-term perspective. Help them see that they have a future ahead, no matter how hard things may be in the present.  
  • Create opportunities for self-discovery. Children shouldn’t be coddled or ‘handled’, instead tough situations can be used to teach them valuable life skills. Show them that they can make choices by themselves, but if they really need help, you are there for them. 
  • Teach them to accept and embrace change. 

Change can be extremely scary and unsettling, regardless of your age. Allow your child to see and interact with changes around them, so that they can see that they are part of life. Help them set new goals, if old ones become unattainable, and encourage them to learn how to examine what is going well in their lives. This in turn can help them plan for what is not going well.

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Depression

Moving past COVID-19, how should we approach mental health needs of children?

The overarching health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic affected the daily lives of most people around the world, including the lives of children. UNICEF has said that the effects of the pandemic and its side effects on children could last for many years. More than 13% of children and teens aged 10–19 are estimated to be battling a diagnosed mental disorder globally. Close to 50,000 youths die by suicide each year, which ranks among the top five causes for death within this age group. 

The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to a number of complex problems that have had mental health in children and young adults. Children’s mental health has been hurt by feelings of fear, grief, uncertainty, social isolation, more time spent in front of screens, and tired parents. Friendships and family support are strong stabilizing factors for kids, but the COVID-19 pandemic has also upset these support systems.

Some of the challenges children and young people faced during the COVID-19 pandemic are:

  • Routines changing – With most parents working from home and advisories telling families to stay home, a lot of children have had their routines completely upended. Without the support of their friends, extended family and activity groups, children lost access to most of the activities they could participate in.
  • Breaks in continuity of learning – Most schools were forced to move towards distance learning, disrupting the way children received their education. Teachers had to navigate digital teaching methods that weren’t as commonly used before the pandemic, which made it harder for students to adjust as well.
  • Breaks in continuity of health care – During the height of the pandemic, it was incredibly hard to access physical health care services, as well as mental health services. Children were not able to get immunizations at the proper times, and unless they had an extremely serious illness, hospital care couldn’t be prioritized. 
  • Missed significant life events – A number of children missed the opportunity to create significant life memories, since a large number of important events had to be restricted or canceled altogether – concerts, movies, weddings, funerals, etc.
  • Lost security and safety – During the pandemic, a large number of families had to bear the brunt of the situation, with a loss in earnings or even a loss of employment. Access to food was disrupted, and access to digital technology became increasingly important. Children of violent/abusive parents faced increased threats of physical harm and other forms of abuse within their homes, without being able to escape. 

How is your child coping?

Encourage your child to open up to you, and be honest with them about how you are feeling as well, so that they understand that it’s okay to feel the way they do. Feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, anger, and disappointment are common for all age groups, however, if these feelings affect your child’s ability to function, you will have to step in and provide support. 

Younger children may not be able to voice their feelings, so watch out for deviations in their behavior and overall development. Be present for your children, and do not let them keep their feelings to themselves. Monitor their feelings and their coping mechanisms, so that you can help them avoid unhealthy coping methods. 

How do you recognize signs of stress in your child?

Infants, toddlers, and young children could show signs of stunted development or backward progress regarding their educational and developmental goals. Post lockdowns, and restrictions, these children may also exhibit other unhealthy behaviors like:

  • Increased irritability and prolonged fussiness
  • Sleep difficulties and changing sleep cycles
  • Physical illnesses issues such as nausea and vomiting, loose motions or constipation, and stomach problems
  • Separation anxiety
  • Tantrums, biting, screaming, crying, bedwetting
  • Unusually aggressive/physically violent behavior adolescents
  • Older children,  and teens will show slightly different signs of distress with symptoms such as:
  • Unusual mood changes, increased irritability, feelings of hopelessness/anger/resentment/unfairness, which can lead to frequent confrontations with family and friends
  • Behavioral changes in the form of dropped relationships, loss of appetite, self-harm or suicidal tendencies
  • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed, or giving up on goals they were passionate about
  • Severe difficulty with cognition – loss of memory, foggy brain/ negative thinking, or concentrating on harmful behaviors.
  • Losing focus with regards to school activities and their overall education
  • Lack of basic personal hygiene, trouble with self-care, loss of energy for simple activities
  • Risky and harmful behaviors, such as drug or alcohol usage, violence against others or social media addictions

Dealing with the loss of a loved one to COVID-19

A large portion of the population lost someone near and dear to the COVID-19 pandemic. This sudden loss of someone special in your child’s life could lead to some serious mental health problems. It is extremely important to be there for your child and to help them find positive coping strategies. They can feel utterly helpless, with thoughts of how unfair life is, so it is imperative to make sure they have sufficient outlets for their grief for a longer period of time, until they are able to come to terms with the loss.

COVID-19 trauma recovery

Now that life has returned to some semblance of what it was before the pandemic, everyone is trying to cope with a ‘new normal’. However, it can be very hard for young children to acclimatize to their new environments when they have been stuck at home for almost 2 years. Additionally, according to research, around 20% of people who contracted COVID-19 developed mental health issues. It is important to sit down and talk to your child every two weeks or once a month, so you can see how they are progressing, and if they are showing symptoms of additional mental health problems. Trauma recovery can be a grueling process, but the support of family and friends can be invaluable during the healing process.

Though the hardest part of the pandemic is seemingly behind us, there are a lot of aftershocks that can still be felt today. Make sure your child feels at ease in your home environment, and support their mental health needs as they reintegrate into their schools, activities, and social circles. The best way to make sure that your child’s mental health needs are met is to monitor their behavior, and consult a doctor if you notice any symptoms of mental health problems.  

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How can you promote healthy mental health development in adolescents?

Childhood and adolescence are extremely important to the development of a person’s long-term mental health & well-being. During adolescence, a child’s brain goes through rapid, accelerated growth & development that helps them develop the cognitive, social & emotional skills they need in order to shape their interaction with society at large.  

Assess your environment

First and foremost, the environmental quality of where adolescents grow up plays a large part in shaping their cognitive, emotional & mental health balances. Any early exposure to bad or negative experiences at home(s), school(s), or digital spaces/social media platforms can increase their risk of mental health problems. Early exposures to violence, mental illness of someone in close proximity, bullying, poverty, failure, sexual abuse, prolonged illness & more, can have severe long-term ramifications on an adolescent’s mental health.

Address mental health issues at the earliest 

Some mental health problems like childhood epilepsy, anxiety, depression, developmental & learning disabilities, and behavioral disorders, are large contributing causes of mental illness and disability amongst adolescents. Worldwide, 1 out of 10 adolescents will experience a mental health disorder in some form, but most of these cases will go unreported and undiagnosed, with little chance of the adolescent in question getting help. By not addressing mental health problems at the earliest, adolescents run the risk of growing into adulthood with untreated illnesses that could hamper their development in various ways. This could limit the way they are able to interact mentally, physically, socially, and psychologically with the world around them. They also run the risk of having suicidal tendencies from early in life, and suicide among teens is the 4th highest known killer for people in that age range. 

By adopting practices that promote positive mental health and well-being, adolescents are led through various methods by which they can function fluently in society, foster important early social connections, gain & maintain positive self-esteem and cope with the ups and downs of life in a healthy way. Some of these practices include the adoption of healthy sleep patterns, the establishment of a regular exercise schedule, the development of coping mechanisms, problem-solving techniques & interpersonal communication skills, and emotional management. 

Identifying common mental health warning signs in adolescents

Mental health problems in adolescents cannot be judged by the presence or absence of any particular symptoms, and that is why it can be hard to identify and diagnose these problems in this age group.  However, there are some signs that you can look out for in your adolescent, which could help you intervene and provide them with much-needed support. Some of these signs include:

  • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Having low energy or attention spans
  • Having difficulty falling asleep
  • Spending more time in isolation, while avoiding social activities
  • Eating difficulties – which could be eating less or eating more than normal
  • Self-harm methods like cutting, burning, hair pulling, and more
  • Using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs (that aren’t prescribed)
  • Engaging in violent or risky behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
  • Unrealistic feelings about the world – seeing/hearing things that don’t exist, feeling that other people want to harm them
  • Experiencing a high range of mood swings
  • Shutting down or retreating into a shell – this can be evidence of physical/sexual/mental/emotional abuse

How can you promote healthy practices in your child? 

The promotion of mental health in adolescents and children seeks to encourage mental health development while increasing healthy behaviors and protective factors. This can help in preventing or delaying the onset of a diagnosable mental disorder while mitigating several risk factors that can invariably lead to the formation of a mental health problem.2 

By creating supportive environments and positive living conditions, one can help their adolescent maintain a healthy lifestyle.  It is important for an adolescent to feel respected in their environment, without worrying about their most basic rights being infringed upon. 

Some of the most basic ways to promote mental health well-being in adolescents are:

  • Negotiating early interventions – this can be as early as when your significant other is pregnant and making sure their needs are well met, and that they stay away from harmful substances/practices. You can also encourage psychosocial engagement for your adolescent by enrolling them in a reputed preschool, and by fostering early adolescent friendships. 
  • Building support networks for adolescents – Enroll your adolescent in a skill-building program, or a youth development program. You can take your child to several different activities/workshops/sporting events, and see which one suits them best.
  • Psychosocial interventions post-crisis – It is healthy to teach children how to contend with tough situations, by turning crises into teaching moments. Instead of showing an adolescent the worst of a bad situation, you can help them see things in a different light, which in turn will help them learn how to deal with diverse and difficult situations.
  • Violence prevention programs
  • Creating safe digital spaces
  • Encouraging independent behaviors

Teach your child valuable life skills

A number of skills can be learned at any stage in life, however, adolescents have the ability to integrate these skills much faster than adults. These life skills can help in promoting psychosocial engagement within children, which can then turn into learned behaviors that can stay with your child for life. 

Communication and interpersonal skills

  • Learning verbal/non-verbal communication & social cues
  • Active listening, memory retention
  • Expressing feelings in a positive manner, giving & receiving feedback positively


Decision-making and critical-thinking skills

  • Thinking through the consequences of actions 
  • Finding appropriate or creative solutions to problems
  • Analyzing the influence of values and attitudes about self and others on various topics
  • Learning to analyze the influence of society, media, friends & family
  • Analyzing how various values, attitudes, beliefs, social norms, and hierarchies affect their lives

Coping and self-management skills

  • Nurturing & building self-esteem and confidence
  • Inculcating self-awareness skills towards human rights, influences, values, goals, problems, attitudes, strengths & weaknesses
  • Goal setting and rewarding completed goals
  • Self-assessment -> self-monitoring -> self-evaluation

Negotiation/refusal skills:

  • Open negotiation, conflict management & resolution
  • Assertiveness – refusals and priority-based negotiating processes
  • Building empathy, sympathy, trust, and leadership qualities
  • Learning to listen & understand others’ needs, environments, circumstances & situations, while expressing this understanding clearly

Advocacy, cooperation & teamwork skills:

  • Influencing skills -> Persuasive speech -> Public Speaking -> Networking
  • Valuing and respecting others’ contributions, different styles, and various methodologies
  • Evaluating their own unique abilities, contributing to the group in whatever way necessary, and working cohesively with others

Skills for managing feelings & stress:

  • Dealing with negative feelings like anger, grief, jealousy, and anxiety
  • Learning how to create coping mechanisms to deal with losses, trauma, and abuse
  • Time management -> organizational methods -> avoiding procrastination 
  • Forming positive relaxation techniques 
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Uncategorized

A Guide To Help You Prepare For Hereditary Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders (or mental illnesses) are health conditions that can have varying effects on people, oftentimes affecting the way a person thinks, acts, feels, understands, or communicates. They can significantly impact the way one has to go about their life, turning the simplest task into something highly challenging.

Some questions most people tend to ask, with regard to mental disorders, are:

  • “Why does this happen?”
  • “Are they hereditary?”
  • “Could I develop a mental health disorder?”
  • “How can I prepare for them in advance?”

Finding an exact underlying cause for most mental illnesses can be extremely challenging since the connection between our bodies and minds is quite complex. This complexity, further complicated by varying life experiences and environments, makes it almost impossible to pinpoint a single cause for all mental illnesses. However, through extensive research and studies, doctors now know of several factors that can influence an individual’s risk of developing a mental health issue – environmental, societal, genetic, and biological.


How Can Genetics Influence Mental Health Disorders?
There are a few ways in which genes ‘express’ themselves in a mental health disorder:
Single gene expression: A lone gene activates – triggering the development of a physical or mental illness, though the likelihood of this happening is very low – significantly more so for mental health disorders.


Epigenetic expression: A gene may or may not show ‘expression’ at various points in life, significantly aided by environmental influences. In epigenetic expression, the way the gene expresses is fluid, not static. This means that unless there exists a perfect mixture between the ‘expression’ and several factors, a mental health disorder is unlikely to develop.


Gene polymorphisms: There can be changes in an individual’s DNA that distinguish them from even close familial matches like a twin. Even with gene polymorphisms, it would still require a combination of various other factors to develop a mental health disorder.
Thus having a mental health disorder in your family does not automatically mean that you are genetically predisposed to having the same disorder. However, genetics plays a role in increasing your risk of developing a mental health disorder.


Having a mental illness genetic predisposition counts toward increasing your risk as studies (which research genetic links) indicate the chances of developing a disorder are higher when a genetic link exists. Some mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, display a more obvious genetic component in development. Genetic studies have been able to correlate variations in chromosomes to
five major mental health disorders – namely depression, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

The chance of an individual having a specific mental disorder is higher if other family members have that same mental disorder, though there may be considerable differences in the severity of symptoms among different family members. One person may have a mild case, while someone else has a more severe case of the same underlying mental disorder. Mental disorders, however, do not follow typical patterns of inheritance.

None of the studies pinpoint a single gene/genetic marker that aided the development of a mental health disorder; however, what they do establish is the presence of similarities in the genetics of those with mental health problems when compared to those without these problems.


What Are the Signs of a Mental Health Disorder to Watch For?

If you believe you are at risk of getting a mental health disorder, keep track of
your mental health, so that you can see if you are developing symptoms. Here are
some common indications of a developing mental health problem:
 Focus/attention issues at work/school
 Sleep issues – insomnia, nightmares, sleep paralysis
 Constantly feeling tired
 Mood swings and emotional fluctuations
 Abnormal feelings of fear, worry, sadness
 Significant increase in alcohol/drug consumption
 Mysterious pains, illnesses, or feelings without an obvious origin
 Eating too much/too little
 Increased self-isolation
 Experiencing alternate reality problems, or having false/untrue thoughts
You think you may run the risk of developing a mental health disorder due to hereditary traits – what do you do now?
If you identify with several signs of a mental illness, even without risk factors, you could have a mental illness and should get help, immediately.

  • First, ask your primary care doctor about a mental health
    screening/check-up
  • Symptoms of mental illness can overlap with other physical conditions.
    Changes in sleep could be from a mental disorder or a change in your lifestyle, or an environmental factor. List out what changes you have been going through, be it lifestyle, physical or environmental – your doctor can help you narrow down on what the underlying issue may be
  • If your screening identifies a risk of developing a mental disorder or shows you that you have already developed one, you could get prescribed medications or lifestyle changes by your doctor, or even be referred to a therapist or mental health specialist.
  • Taking medications as prescribed can help with creating a balance with your brain chemicals; however, it is always recommended to seek therapy for a mental health problem, in conjunction with medication. This is important because, therapy will help you learn ways to change how you think, how you feel, and how you interact with yourself and the world around you.


Why See a Psychiatric Genetic Counselor?


For those with a familial history of mental health disorders, a specialized psychiatric genetic counselor can help provide guidance, by navigating you through your mental health journey. Some of the conditions they can help you with can include autism spectrum disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, ADHD, and more. These counselors can also
help you plan for parenthood, by discussing the possibility/risk of your children having mental health disorders, based on your familial history.


What can I do to prepare for my appointment with a specialist?


To get the most out of your mental health appointment, give as much
information as possible with regards to your family’s mental wellness. Ask your specialist to help you map out:
 Your personal mental health history (and current status)
 Family members with mental health problems/symptoms of mental
wellness problems
 What condition(s) is prevalent in your family
 The ages at which these conditions started presenting themselves within different individuals in your family


During this appointment, the specialist can help you take a detailed family history, which will help them gain clarity about the most likely causes of these disorders within your family. They can also help you plan for yourself, as well as for others, based on all the variables described in the information they are given. They can also assist you in developing strategies to help you (and your family) deal with the emotional weight of the risks of mental health disorders, while
providing you with support & guidance through the entire journey.

Categories
Depression

How can digital intervention help people deal with loneliness and depression?

Loneliness and depression are two mental health issues that were prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic. Increased rates of isolation, chaotic life imbalances, social anxieties, fear of infection, and many other mental troubles plagued people world over. Today, we can see that these issues affect people from all walks of life on a global scale. In order to combat the increased demand for mental health care services, people are turning to digital solutions that are easily accessed from anywhere in the world. How can these digital solutions help someone battling depression, loneliness, or social anxiety? The answer is that there are many ways in which digital intervention can help people find ways to cope with their mental health needs.

Digital technology generally relates to collecting, analyzing, implementing & producing data through a number of digital devices. This technology, when used properly, can aid in the mental healthcare of an individual, by allowing critical preventive interventions, casual mental wellness boosts, wellness tracking, rapid education & cost-effective solutions. These digital solutions integrate the needs of the many into social healthcare by using community delivery systems that help reach the maximum potential audience. Increased access, reduced costs & social stigma, large repositories of potential mental healthcare workers, and streamlined services are just some of the advantages of digital intervention when it comes to mental healthcare. These solutions provide an opportunity to those with serious mental health problems, as well as those struggling with situational mental health issues (who may not need long-term care or therapy). While younger people have an easier time with seeking access to therapy and mental health services, older adults might find it harder to do so due to social stigma. The nature of anonymity provided by digital intervention platforms can help older adults access the care they need without having to step out of the comfort of their homes.

The Rise of Wellness Apps and Tele-therapy

If you aren’t sleeping well, there’s an app for it. If you are having trouble with your weight – there’s an app – in fact, there are apps for almost every facet of health and well-being. This rising trend of digital platforms addressing various mental and physical health problems has taken root world over, and India is no different. Apps like Trijog, ePsyclinic, Wysa, TrustCircle, Mind Clan, The Alternative Story, YOURDost, KahaMind, InnerHour and more, have launched within the Indian market, aimed at helping different sections of the population with a host of mental health issues. Wysa is poised to launch a Hindi version of its highly acclaimed app, while other apps like InnerHour reported spikes of over 300% in user acquisition. A shortage in the number of good doctors, as well as a continued social stigma associated with consulting an in-person therapist/doctor contribute to the rise of these types of apps.

Digital or tele-interventions are generally easier to access and far more scalable than traditional mental health therapy. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, many health professionals were forced to turn to to tele-medicine and tele-therapy. Furthermore, mental health based technology can help effectively reduce economic, social & structural obstacles that could prevent people from actively seeking mental healthcare.

Connecting Globally Through Online Communities

It can be hard to deal with loneliness, in an increasingly digitalized and socially isolated world. While our reliance on technology can have adverse effects on an individual’s mental health, it can also help foster a sense of community with people from all over the world.

Platforms such as Reddit, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and more have established a sense of community amongst many adults, while providing people with a safe space to create and nurture essential human social connections. These connections have the ability to span across countries, communities & cultures, helping people establish real world relationships that would be hard to foster in the real world. By encouraging honest (and quite often anonymous) contributions, online communities give people a space to vent, rant, console, grieve, ask for advice, and more.

These digital communities have been instrumental in connecting & helping people deal with isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, by allowing users from all over the world to connect with others facing the same problems as they do. Social connection through online communities has the ability to reduce one’s feelings of loneliness and depression, giving people something to bond over, while making friends in the process.

One of the most overlooked benefits of online communities is the positive effect it can have on brain health, in that it can help people feel both mentally and physically younger, by helping with brain activity. Such mental simulation can help offset the chances of depression, loneliness, dementia and more. Through discussions and the exchange of ideas, individuals can stimulate (and improve) brain performance and positive mental health balance.

Potential Problems & Pitfalls

While there are many advantages to digital intervention for adults with mental health issues, there can be some drawbacks to relying solely on digital solutions. Issues such as increasing isolation, digital addictions, privacy & data breaches, online harassment and more can have a negative impact on mental health.

One of the most pressing issues with digitalizing therapy is the regulation of digital intervention platforms. A lot of these platforms have the ability to make bold (and sweeping) claims, without evidence to back it up. Similarly, influencers can lead people down the wrong path, guided by their own beliefs, instead of by what is best for the user. By leading on users who are merely seeking mental health solutions, these apps can make it less likely that someone who needs help will seek it out for a few reasons: people can believe (falsely) that they are cured, or they can misdiagnose themselves without the aid of professionals.

Since digital therapy solutions are relatively new, scientific research into its efficacy is in the infant stage. The data shared with these platforms by unassuming users poses problems with safety and privacy. The privacy agreements drafted by various digital apps are murky, dense & convoluted. Mental health data collected from users has the ability to be used against people, and must therefore be subject to higher standards of privacy protection than other apps.

While there are problems with digital solutions to mental healthcare, there are also tremendous advantages. With a bit of research, care and effort, people can make sure they are safeguarded against potential problems, while easily accessing mental health care in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Digital interventions can alleviate many mental health issues including loneliness and depression, but it is always advisable to contact a trusted professional beforehand. The digital mental healthcare market is ever expanding, with plenty of people who require these services – which makes digital interventions essential in the fight against mental health issues.

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Uncategorized

7 Effective Behavioral Changes That Can Improve Mental Health in Adults

Around 14% of the Indian population suffers from some variation of mental health disorders, while an even higher percentage will face mental health crises at some point in their lives. Every year, more and more Indians sign up for mental health therapy of some sort, and this barely scratches the surface of India’s growing mental health problems. Indians face a lot of problems in seeking health for their mental health concerns including: social stigma, an incredibly low therapist to patient ratio (7.5:1000000) and high costs of continuous treatments.

So how does one go about improving their mental health, in their own home & environment? A lot of therapists recommend identifying the pillars of good mental health, honest introspection, and adopting or changing daily practices to foster total body wellness. Today, you can access mental health services easier than ever before – whether you go in person, attend sessions online, or even through apps, WhatsApp and SMS. However, if you are unsure of what steps you can take, personally, to alleviate your mental health concerns, you could try enforcing some of the behaviors listed below.

  1. Add Movement To Your Life

Until quite recently, humans have always had to be active in order to survive and thrive. Until the advance of modern transportation & technology, activities such as walking long distances, dealing with manual labor & exercising while working were commonplace for most people. With increasing reliance on technology that decreases our need for physical activity, it is important to find ways to make up for this.

Be it through scheduled exercise, walks through nature, sporting activities, or manual activities such as gardening & dancing, you can add activities to your everyday life that will help you alleviate a number of mental health concerns.

2. Control Your Rest

Sleep is essential to each and every one of us. However, in a world dominated by hyper-evolutionary technology, our sleep patterns can go totally unregulated. We also need to find time to simply rest our minds and bodies, to let ourselves rejuvenate stress-free.

We can do this through breathing exercises, yoga, light exercises and more. You can lie back in bed, even if you aren’t sleepy, with your eyes closed for a period of time, until you feel your mind calm down. You can take a walk or spend time with your pet, or find a quiet place in a beautiful area to just be one with the world around you.

As far as sleep goes, set an exact time to go to bed, and to wake up. It is important to address sleep issues as soon as possible, since it has been shown that bad sleep habits can adversely affect your mental health. So remember to rest your brain, and sleep as peacefully as you can.

If you find it hard to sleep, try exercising or going for a walk to make yourself tired. If you still find it hard to sleep, then at the least try to relax your body & mind while sitting in bed, emptying all negative thoughts from your brain in the process.

3. Eat For Your Brain

Over the course of time, the reason for which we eat food has changed significantly. People now eat for the flavor of food, and for enjoyment, whereas we once used to eat to survive. By foregoing healthy food, for those that give us comfort or joy, we are denying our body the nutrients it needs to function properly. Just as eating unhealthy food can lead to your body putting on weight, unhealthy food can have adverse effects on your brain and cognitive functions.

To keep your brain optimally charged, try eating a balanced, nutritious diet that is packed with brain-rich foods. Berries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, coffee & omega 3 rich fatty fish are just some foods that can help your brain get the energy it needs.

4. Connect, Connect, Connect

Humans need social connectivity to thrive. Without the proper amount of social interaction, we are bound to feel lonely, disenfranchised & left behind. Social connection is one of the most important factors to keep in mind while evaluating mental health problems.

Try to connect with other people in some way or the other. Talk about your problems with family, friends or acquaintances – keeping your problems to yourself seldom helps. Go out and make new friends through a new hobby, skill or interest. Find the people that you connect with the most, and put more effort into fostering those relationships. Be there for people around you who need help, and rely on others to help you get through your bad times.

4. Respect Your Boundaries/Limitations

As humans, we tend to believe that we are limitless creatures, and as we grow up, this notion erodes away. The inability to fulfill various tasks that we see others do with ease can be a source of internal conflict for many people. This does not have to be the case. Each and every one of us can find specific things that we do better than others, and it is important to celebrate. However, it is just as important to acknowledge and be open about our various limitations and boundaries, so that we may learn to

forgive our failures. Setting boundaries for things you don’t like can help to reduce anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. It can be extremely cathartic and uplifting to be able to set personal boundaries based on your preferences, because it exemplifies putting your own interested ahead of others’.

6. Exercise Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an ability that most of us have, but aren’t taught about. Practicing mindfulness can help you be fully present in any given moment, while it helps you take stock of your likes & dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses, your emotional triggers, etc.

By focusing inward, and understanding your own psyche, you will be able to achieve a balanced center from which you can learn how to control your mind. Being mindful does not have to involve yoga or any activity, rather it is about creating a comfortable space for yourself that helps you introspect and learn from your experiences. Think of it as a way to take your brain off autopilot mode, and gaining mental control for yourself. 

7. Regulate Your Emotions

Do not let your emotions control the way you live. Instead, regulate them just as you would other activities, and gain control over them. Once you have identified the issues, activities, people and other variables that cause your mind to get triggered negatively, you can work towards negating the effects of these emotions.

Successfully regulating your emotions will help you focus more on the positive feelings that you have, and will help you build your life around those emotions, rather than being weighed down by the negatives. Once you are able to do this, thinking realistically (for yourself) becomes much easier – balancing imagination and the real world.

By regulating our emotions and thoughts, it becomes much easier to see the world as it is, rather than the way we perceive it to be. Usually, this helps us realize what is important to us, and helps us keep a conscious account of the emotional toll we experience.

By successfully implementing these 7 habits, your life can become easier, less stressful, and more productive. You will be able to identify the emotions, people and activities that bring you the most mental anguish, and then approach them with a healthy & positive mindset. Remember, your mental health is just as important as physical health, so make it a point to take care of it as well as you can!

Categories
Featured

A fine balance

Once again, in October, I had the privilege of attending Chennai’s international festival of short films on mental health, “Frame of Mind” organised by SCARF (the Schizophrenia Research Foundation India). My task was to interact with the audience after the Richard Gere film, “Mr. Jones” about an extraordinarily charming man with bipolar affective disorder (manic depressive illness).

The film begins with the protagonist wanting to fly off the high roof of a building he is working on. His childhood desire to fly — matched by his firm belief while in a manic state, about his ability to do so — makes a potent and heady combination. As he watches a plane fly overhead and prepares to launch himself off the roof in pursuit, he is saved by his colleague’s presence of mind, thus landing in a psychiatric treatment facility.

Being a Hollywood film it needs a heroine; in this case a female psychiatrist of Swedish origin, whose first encounter with Mr. Jones at the facility she works in, leads to his choice of her as his doctor. Even from the beginning the relationship develops along rather unusual lines. She recognises his problem as being bipolar disorder and that he needs continued treatment rather than discharge. Her attempt to convince the court that he must be held against his will, and treated, fails. She leaves the courtroom disappointed and frustrated, only to have him request a ride home, as he has no money.

Blurring lines

The lines become blurred as professional and client proceed to not only have lunch en route, they also end up having a most enjoyable afternoon together. sharing a romantic walk on the seashore, with profound insights on music, gourmet preferences and each other’s lives, her appointments at work, clearly being forgotten. While the film thus portrays the human being within the patient and the professional, it also serves to disappoint the professional viewer, as the very foundations of therapeutic relationships and of appropriate behaviours within their context come crashing down.

The film follows Mr. Jones through a manic phase of illness during which he is seen withdrawing his entire bank balance in one go, proceeding to invite the rather pretty and flirtatious bank clerk for an afternoon of fun. The roller-coaster of his mania takes over both their lives for a few hours, as street food, shopping for a piano for him and clothes for her, intimate moments in a swanky hotel room, and a visit to the opera follow one another in rapid succession. His attempt to conduct the opera, notwithstanding his later justifications about how Bach should really be played, result in his return to psychiatric care. Poignant moments in the film ensue: when asked about his mania he says, rather emphatically, “of course I am happy; I am ecstatic!” revealing his distinct preference for that euphoric state of mind. Another moment of truth is when he ticks off his psychiatrist for asking intrusive and personal questions, pointing out that it is rude to do so. That psychiatric illness is dehumanising and strips the sufferer of his dignity, even through these seemingly mature and civil interactions, is well brought out here.

Mr. Jones slips, (as he inevitably must) from the high of mania, into the depth of depression. His distress, despair and pathos are well brought out, moments of anguish being portrayed sensitively. Once again, however, the rather unusual client-therapist relationship comes to the fore.

In general, physical closeness between client and therapist is discouraged; a firm professional handshake being, perhaps, the only physical contact endorsed; children and the elderly being possible exceptions. Here, client and therapist share hugs rather freely and with complete abandon. His long stay in the treatment centre where his therapist works, allows us brief insights into the lives of other patients and therapists, their trials and tribulations. An act of violence against our heroine by another deluded inmate, and Mr. Jones’ extraordinary presence of mind in saving her, result inevitably in increased closeness.

Dealing with rejection

It is only in cinema that a professional psychiatrist and a client admitted under her care go for a drive together, get drenched in the rain and end up making love. Nevertheless, these actions seem to bring about awareness in our heroine, about having crossed a professional line, and she seeks to remedy matters by discussing the situation with a professional colleague, taking herself off the Mr. Jones’ case.

Her rejection of Mr. Jones also brings to the fore earlier rejections by those he is intimate with, but who cannot deal with his bipolar tendency; the changes of mood and impulsive actions that accompany this disorder. She finds out that “Ellen”, his former girlfriend whom he often refers to as “dead”, is indeed alive. Mr. Jones merely deals with her rejection of him as “death”; death for him perhaps of an ideal, a persona; of hope and long cherished dreams. The tribulations of those who live with bipolar disorder sufferers come to the fore here.

Rather poignantly, the bank clerk who spent a roller coaster day with our protagonist visits his psychiatrist to enquire about his well being. Her inability to understand how such a remarkably funny, engaging and talented person like Mr. Jones could possibly be ill is common experience. The hypo-manic state where euphoria is predominant and actions expansive; the full blown state of mania where the person loses the ability to reason and is out of touch with reality; alternating with states of depression or low mood, poor appetite, low energy levels and insomnia characterise this disorder. While all of us experience some mood swings, they are usually in consonance with our circumstances and proportionate to them, which is not the case in bipolar disorder.

The film also brings out the common biological explanation for this condition, that it is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, and that there is need for compliance with drug treatment, so necessary here. In one rather fetching moment, our heroine drops Mr. Jones at his doorstep, and as he crosses the road to his house, tosses across his medication, “your chemicals”; as she drives away Mr. Jones is seen tossing the pills into the litter bin, and walking nonchalantly home. This failure of patients to be compliant with treatment, one of the greatest challenges in managing psychiatric illness, is well portrayed.

Issues to the fore

During the audience discussion, the ability of Mr. Jones to choose whether he needs admission or not; the long conversations and therapeutic sessions he has with his psychiatrist; the need for a court order for his treatment are issues that come to the fore. Many wonder whether such interactions are at all possible in the Indian context and indeed whether they exist.

Professionals in the audience hasten to point out that Hollywood has undoubtedly taken liberties, and that there are cultural differences between the American setting and ours; that civil liberties for the person with mental illness are common around the world, although lack of awareness and education lead to their being transgressed in low and middle income countries. The ongoing redevelopment of India’s Mental Health Act is also discussed.

The client-therapist relationship comes in for much discussion; professionals in the audience ruing the unfortunate tendency among filmmakers to portray such romantic relationships. A call to filmmakers for more accurate portrayals of mental illness and therapeutic relationships is made. However, the group also acknowledged that film, like other art forms, is a caricature and thrives on dramatisation and exaggeration. View it with a pinch of salt is the common refrain.

The film ends where it begins. Mr. Jones is on the roof again, although his dejection and despair make us wonder whether it is to fly with childlike abandonment, or to die in abject surrender. True to cinematic endeavour, the heroine arrives in the nick of time to save his life and the couple unite in romance, her professional vows seemingly a distant memory. Will Mr. Jones’ ever get better? Will his heroine ever get to practice psychiatry again; lose, as she will, her medical license for consorting with a client? Will they live happily ever after?

The viewer is left with these and other questions as this rollercoaster of a film ends. It does underline for us, clearly, the travails of bipolar disorder, the importance of mental equilibrium, and of maintaining in our lives, a fine balance.

Quick facts

Psychiatric illness is dehumanising and strips the sufferer of his dignity, even when interactions are mature and civil

The failure of patients to be compliant with treatment, is one of the greatest challenges in managing psychiatric illness

Categories
Media

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