HYDERABAD : Kindness is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this May. Though being kind has been necessary always, the Covid-19 pandemic and associated fears have made it more important to reach out to one another. As people try to make peace with uncertainty, there are many who are fighting different mental health challenges like depression and anxiety along the way. If any of them seek help, how can we be kind to them?
Radhika Acharya, a clinical psychologist, says: “Depression and anxiety are caused by imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is important for people to understand that such behaviours are not intentional. It’s like having a cold. You have no hand in bringing it upon yourself.
When the neurotransmitter serotonin goes down, you feel dull and depressed. Friends and family can play an important role in helping anyone overcome these disorders. They can lend a kind and empathy ear to the aggrieved person, without judging them.” Dr Vinod Kumar, psychiatrist and head of Mpower - The Centre in Bengaluru, says: “People need a safe space to vent out. But it’s unfortunate that sometimes, even before a person has finished speaking, we come up with a list of solutions.
This sends out a signal that the listener is not interested. Being a ready reckoner of solutions doesn’t help as there is a chance that the person already knows them. We have to create a space where people can talk about their issues without b e i n g c r i t i c i s e d o r invalidated.” Stating that seeking help for mental health should not be a taboo, Radhika says: “Many a times, cries of help are branded temper tantrums or attentionseeking behavior by near and dear ones. A person living with depression finds it difficult to ask for help, and it is necessary to respond to her with kindness.
They can also approach clinical psychologists, who can make them feel better with therapy.” But what happens in cases when the listener is stressed out too? “If someone doesn’t have the right headspace to offer mental health support, then it’s okay to explain it to the person through a polite message or call, with the promise of getting back later. One can seek professional help too. Being honest is always better than pretending to listen to a person, “ says Dr Vinod.
Signs of depression
Persistent sad mood
Losing interest in favourite activities
Fatigue and body pains
Lack of motivation to do anything
—kakoli_mukherjee@newindianexpress. com @KakoliMukherje2