Mental Illness – Truth or Myth

“Rule your mind or it will rule you”
– Horace

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Did you know that the mental health software applications industry alone is a $589M market, with a growth rate expected at 23% for the next eight years?  The entire mental health industry, which includes the counselling, research, pharma sectors, is expected to grow at 2.8% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate), in the USA. This is the next big industry after the software and medical revolution.

According to research by the world bank, one in every five human beings in the world, has a mental health situation. Ideally, we are looking at a total of close to 20% of the world’s population, tagged as mentally ill. The WHO suggests that, the symptoms of bad or weak mental health are, depression, stress, abnormal thoughts, frequent emotional changes, to name a few. Aren’t almost all of us familiar with these terms?

The bigger question to us is, do we want to contribute to this industry directly or indirectly? If our answer is NO, then we should read on.

Of late one can observe many celebrities making public speeches regarding mental health and wellness. A few of these could be paid advertisements, sending out the message to the community at large, to start a conversation around mental health, so that it becomes a buzz word. This seems to be a big trap for the weak-hearted, who fall easily for it. They instill a feeling that even the slightest mood swings could mean you have a situation in hand which needs attention. Mood swings are human, it needs attention only when it is entirely out of control. When you start seeing these contents regularly, whenever you have a mood swing, you would start feeling something is wrong with you. Many years ago, this is the same strategy, the industry adopted, for selling health drinks and food supplements too. A lot of people got brainwashed and switched to these supplements, instead of getting their nutrition naturally, from the food they eat daily. They got oats, corn flakes and other junk food on to our plates and they told us to compensate for the lack of nutrition through these supplements. Many people are caught in this vicious circle of life and find it hard to get out of it. Most of us know that our traditional food has more nutrition than all these products, being advertised as good for us and our health but still, we fall prey to these products. These days having corn flakes, oats and the nutrition supplements for your breakfast is a status symbol. Unfortunately, even in the case of mental health, the industry is waiting with nets for people to fall prey.

In that case, does it mean that there are no mental health issues? No, there are, and a lot of them need immediate attention too. The point I am trying to make here is, when issues like these take a commercial angle, the purpose is defeated most of the times. It then boils into a huge nexus of money-making people who sell even their ethics and morals, if they ever had any that is, and focus at only one thing in life, making money and some more money. Let us see an example.

How many of us would have heard of the word STRESS, maybe 15 years back? I am sure we would not have heard it even from our parents, when you were kids. However, things have changed, it’s a buzz word these days; don’t you think so? These days, if we are not stressed about/because of something, it is abnormal. If we do not have a stressful job or a stressful life, it sounds like we are not achieving anything in life. That’s the feeling being sown into our minds. Media keeps harping on the fact that “jobs have become stressful”, “life is becoming tough” etc. through various forums or advertisements. The research results/outputs shown, to support the thought, are mostly one-sided or solicited. Slowly, but truly, this is the first step towards a forced mental health situation, across the globe. With repeated communication, they will make you believe that you are really leading a stressful life. This is happening because we do not have control over our minds. It’s controlled mostly by smartphones and the ill-informed or rather over-informed people (thanks to Google and similar search engines), around us. We have allowed others to decide what is right for us and the trend is that other’s opinions matter a lot more than our own gut feelings.

Do not fall prey to these traps and contribute to the next big industry. It is totally in your control. Let us see a few acceptable practices, to help keep us away from mental health issues and lead a good life.

Take control of your mind, do not let others dictate how you should lead your life. You are your best judge and the best decision-maker, never allow others to decide things for you or dictate terms to you. You could always get suggestions from well-wishers and trusted people but, the final decision should be yours. Do not let somebody tell you, you can’t do something.

Just keep in mind; the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have – Epictetus

Build a network of people who have a positive frame of mind, around you. It doesn’t have to be a big group, 3 to 4 people whom you can rely on, and you are confident that they think good for you always, should do. Share your feelings, thoughts and actions, keep the conversation on. With positive people around you, it is always refreshing to have a conversation. Loneliness is one of the biggest causes of mental health situations.

Positive thinking is the key! Always look at the brighter side of life in all situations. Remove the negative thoughts, and practice mindfulness. Refer to my earlier blog on positive thinking.

Meditate regularly to keep your mind active and reduce restlessness. Meditation will help you have a stable mind and minimise negativity. It will also help you understand yourself well and become strong from inside. 

Control your thoughts, do not overthink in/about any situation. Overthinking about any situation that you have not yet encountered, will build anxiety and, over a period of time, it could lead to depression too. Make sure you live in the present and enjoy the present moment. Present moment is the only time you can experience in life. Like someone said, “Peace is the result of restraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be!”.

Also, do not let your anger get out of control. Always keep your mind in control; do not let your mind control you. Keep anger away from you. Continued state of anger could cause serious health hazards. It could tag you as someone who does not have control on one’s mind, mentally unstable person.

Practice forgiveness, it will help clear your mind and help you lead a peaceful life. Forgiving others is important but, equally essential is forgiving oneself. It will help you relax and stay calm or peaceful.
“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return you will receive untold peace and happiness.” – Robert Muller

Stay away from social media; if you are weak hearted, social media can be depressing. You will start feeling like, except you, the rest of the world is enjoying a great life, which is not the actual case. That is the reason I keep telling everyone, social media is not an accurate picture of someone’s life. Social media also draws parallels with others and builds un-necessary competition and pressure. 

Get physically fit; though it’s mentioned last here but, it is definitely not the least, in fact we can safely say that this is the most important one. Make sure you focus on physical fitness for better mental health. Science says 15 mins of workout everyday will refresh your mind and keep you healthy too. Make sure you spend at least 30 mins everyday exercising, this has loads of benefits. Even a simple walk, Yoga, a few simple activities in the gym is a good option. The best way to do this is, get associated with some sport and try to play more often. If you are the lazy type, find company to do some physical activity. That way you become unconsciously accountable to the others of the group and you will push yourself out of your comfort zone every day.

Learn to lead a happy life, do not let somebody else take control of it. Your past should not determine your future. Let’s make it a point that we will not contribute to the growth of the Mental Health Industry directly or indirectly. With COVID-19, this industry has started to boom. Do not fall prey. For more in-depth thoughts and practices, you could refer to the relevant posts in my blog posts.

Stay happy! Stay safe!

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