THERAPY IN INDIA, WHILE STILL A TABOO, SHOULD BE A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
Author: Vranda Rellan, II Year of B.B.A.,LL.B from Symbiosis Law School Hyderabad.
Brief- Despite various preventive measures being taken, therapy is still a taboo in India and society still judge people for something that isn’t their fault. There is still a long way to go in order to solve the mental health issue.
The issues of mental health, social isolation, and anxiety have never been more prominent than in the age of COVID-19. Because mental illnesses can have serious consequences if left untreated, it is critical to recognise and treat them. Suicides caused by depression are the second-most common cause of death in people aged 15 to 29 years old, according to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO). This invalidates the stereotype that the illness only affects the elderly. According to the report, anyone, young or old, can suffer from depression or other mental illnesses. However, most people are hesitant to openly discuss mental illness, or even to acknowledge the possibility that they are suffering from it.
Why is mental health care such a complicated issue? The word covers a wide range of conditions, from ordinary transitory and acute anxiety and sadness to severe chronic disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disease. Putting everything or everyone into one category is inaccurate and unfair.
The mental health of a person can vary throughout time, based on a variety of conditions. When a person's resources and coping abilities are stretched beyond their limits, their mental health may suffer. A variety of things can contribute to mental illness. The death of a loved one or the loss of one's job are both tragic events. Long-term stress, loneliness, poverty fear, and losing one's source of money are some of the more typical causes of serious mental illnesses in people.
MENTAL ILLNESS: STILL A TABOO IN INDIA
According to the WHO, 7.5 percent of Indians suffer from some form of mental illness, and it is predicted that by the end of this year, about 20% of India will be affected by mental illnesses. It is estimated that over 56 million Indians suffer from depression, with another 38 million suffering from anxiety disorders. India, on the other hand, appears to be lagging behind in terms of recognising and managing mental health and related issues.
Depression and anxiety crises are usually dismissed as small annoyances experienced primarily by the ultra-wealthy. Worse, people with mental illnesses tend to hide their problems for fear of being condemned and looked down upon by a conservative society. In India, shedding these negative characteristics and bringing about a culture shift could take several years.
Despite the progress made on the paper, there is still a pitiful lack of social infrastructure in place to deal with the problem, which decreases demand for care. Discrimination and social stigma are still present. They remain the most significant impediments to the use of mental health services.
OVERCOMING THE TABOO
Delaying or refusing care to those who need it the most could be the cause of innumerable fatalities throughout the age and geographical spectrum. To avoid a chain reaction of terrible events, the government might make mental health care more inexpensive and accessible to people of all income levels. In this regard, the Healthcare Act of 2017 is a positive step forward.
Workplace safety training should also cover how to treat co-workers, whether or not they have mental problems. Mental health training and monitoring can be a good supplement to behaviour-based safety programmes. People all around the country must show empathy for their fellow countrymen and women. While it may be unrealistic to expect a huge shift in people's conceptions of mental health and wellbeing, even minor improvements in behaviour and attitude will go a long way toward improving many people's mental health and well-being.
RIGHT TO HEALTH AS AN EXCLUSIVE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
Currently, the Indian Constitution does not specifically acknowledge the "right to health" as a basic right, despite Article 21 guaranteeing the protection of life and personal liberty. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021, proposes to put new Article 21(B) into the Constitution. In accordance with international treaties, there has been an increasing call to recognise the "right to health" as a fundamental right. Several MPs have also advocated constitutional amendments in the past to support a rights-based approach to health.
The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2017. According to the Bill, the state is required to offer health protection to all residents, including disease prevention, treatment, and control, as well as access to needed medicines. According to the Bill, all residents should have access to basic health services, emergency medical treatment, and mental healthcare.
This particular age-old societal principle is applicable to everyone in India. It transcends gender, caste, religion, socioeconomic status, and geographic boundaries. It rules supreme in managing people's choices because if people's weaknesses become publicly known, they would be subjected to judgement, gossip, and drama. It also prevents much-needed mental health care from being provided.
There is an urgent need for a justiciable mechanism to protect all Indian citizens' health, including illness prevention, treatment, and control, as well as access to free or low-cost medical care, diagnostics, and vital drugs. Making the Right to Health a basic right will help us get closer to that goal. The state has a responsibility to provide free or low-cost healthcare to all of its residents.
The future of mental health concerns in India may not be decided by the sufferers, but by the society that surrounds them. However, if mental health care taboos persist, it will reflect poorly on society rather than the individual.