Mental Health talk - a concern or a trend

(R.A. Saboor Haider, karachi)

MENTL HEALTH

Few years back, I woke up with a panicked phone call from one of my closest friend’s sister. She was crying and could barely speak and asked me to come to her home as soon as possible. I rushed towards her house, several thoughts were crossing my mind that God knows what has happened. As soon as I reached there, I saw that my friend had locked himself in the kitchen. I broke the door with the help of his brother and we saw that my friend was partially unconscious, gas was releasing from the stove and he was about to lit a lighter. We desperately ran towards him, snatched the lighter and dragged him out of the kitchen. That’s when I got to know that he is been suffering from mental health issues, borderline personality disorder and anxiety for years. I froze, knowing him for years and meeting him every other day, I never realized what was going on in his head which he was unable to share with anyone around him. That thought lingers on my mind and still haunts me that we don’t know who is suffering from what? I am glad when I see that people are now talking about mental health issues on different platforms and showing their concerns for people who are suffering from this life threating disease. Because if we look back, few years ago even talking about it was taboo, people were scared to share but at least we are now able to talk about it, like I am writing about it. But are we really talking about it because we are concerned? Or like every other issue be it climate change, feminism or me too movement, it is becoming a trend or are we doing it for the sake of getting more likes or followers?
Without having proper knowledge about mental health issues, we like to preach and with a very limited understanding towards it, we tell sufferers to not ‘overthink’. On the other hand, celebrities who have this privilege to talk to wider audience and carry a lot of responsibility for what they say and do, easily pass such kind of comments that depression is only because of your unhealthy diet. I agree to some extent that gut plays an important role but that is not the only reason for having depression or other mental health problems but there is more to it. We have become so insensitive that we forget our harsh and inappropriate words about mental health issues can provoke the victim to take extreme steps. That one step of my friend changed me, my thinking and my behavior but why do we always have to wait for someone to do something. We need to ask this question because as a human we all bear some kind of responsibility on our shoulders towards other humans and towards real life issues. Although, it is not easy when you get to know about someone close to you, be it a friend or a family member are suffering from mental health issues or have been sexually assaulted. Similarly, it is not easy for a sufferer or a survivor to share what they are going through because the kind of society we are living in, it does not accept them due to the stigma attached to it. People either stop them to share or either don’t take them seriously. It is very brave of them if they gather all the courage to share. At that point, it is our responsibility to be supportive and not being judgmental. They do not expect us to be a counselor or a therapist but a good listener. Let us all pledge to be more kind and compassionate towards each other. Let’s encourage everybody to share honestly, be a support to our family, friends, colleagues and everybody around us.

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