In NCERT books, health is defined as a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being. But then, why do students only learn about the disease and not disorders. Why do they only learn about the symptoms of typhoid and widespread dengue and not of depression and anxiety?

First of all, let me define Mental Health. In simple words 'It is the way we think, the way our emotions guide us, some psychological facts, and our social interaction. Which in these years has deteriorated.

In India, there have been recorded over 72.6 million cases of depression and 38 million of anxiety in the last few years. And I cannot begin to count the number of cases that are left unidentified. And due to the amount of stigma and taboo related to mental health, only 9-10 % seek professional help. The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) commissioned How India Perceives Mental Health: TLLLF National Survey Report 2018.

Interestingly they found that:

  • 47% of people indicate higher judgemental views against people perceived as having a mental illness.
  • 26% Are afraid, fear these people.
  • 27% support people.

The study also shows that over 80% of people used words such as 'talk to themselves, restart, crazy, stupid, irresponsible and born with brain defects to describe a person with mental illness. Now, this shows that stigma and awareness are two separate issues though, interlinked.

Stigma originates from ignorance.

India has ignored mental health, in all the places it should have focused on. Pandemic was a very good opportunity to bring awareness. The government was also highly inefficient in its role. No nationwide schemes or projects were launched to help people, only some helplines were made. And the number of people who called these helplines is very low.

Hence, as long as people don't have knowledge and awareness about mental health, we cannot remove the stigma. And as long as we don't remove the stigma, people suffering and coping cannot seek help without the fear of being judged.

Health is everything you learn in school- physical, mental and social well-being.

However, is the definition enough?

Is, staring off the chapter with 'What health is?' and ending it with- so clean your environment children, be hygienic; enough?

The world has outdated NCERT. If our textbooks don't change with the ever-changing world, development will never occur. Our textbooks do not only teach us they guide us as well. And the guidance towards mental health is never given. Textbooks should not only teach us the definition but also- the early diagnosis of a mental illness, treatment methods, self-help techniques, and support. The one's suffering can be taught to take care of themselves. And others should be taught to give support.

A healthy-helping environment, isn't that what schools are?

Schools should be an environment where one can open up, where the youth of India can learn first-hand- how Mental Health can be taken care of. Because it is not a joke, it is reality. People need help, they need support. We all do. And nothing is ever enough. And so I think everyone one of us should speak up.

Like I did today, I am not some politician who will say a word and people will applause. I am only a student, but today I wrote my heart out, and maybe I only impacted some people, not the whole world. But believe me, 'some people' is a good number to start with.

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