Why mental health is as essential as physical health?

Erika Nandwani
Special Education

28 Nov 2020
mental health is as important as physical health

Mental health is as important as physical health

The power of a human mind never fails to amaze. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” A direct translation results in an obvious assumption: there is no health, without mental health.

In India, an estimated 7.5% of the population suffers from some form of mental disorder. India alone accounts for up to 15% of the global mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorder burden. Significantly, mental disorders account for nearly a fourth of the total caseload in the primary healthcare sector, highlighting the enormous treatment gap that exists in the country.

How? The Indian healthcare system is a body of fewer than four thousand practitioners. In a country of 1.3 billion, it is a live testimony of how mental healthcare is seldom treated as essential as an individual’s physical well being. Ironically this ‘gap’ prevails even though India was one of the first countries to develop a National Mental Health Programme. Mental healthcare, however, is not optional. It is a less acknowledged necessity for maintaining good overall health.

For centuries both science and societal stigma have persuaded us how the two concepts of physical and mental health are disparate and as far from each other as can be. Today, our scientific knowledge proves that mental health and physical health care but the two faces of the same coin. If we go back to trace the connection between the two, we will find our first clue in the fact that common mental health problems often begin to show up as physical symptoms in the form of stress, headaches, palpitations, changes in sleeping patterns, and so on. This fact alone justifies the current healthcare practice of taking into account the psychological wellbeing of a patient when treating the physical symptoms of a condition and vice versa.

The most evident example of this conjugal relationship is seen in acute and chronic conditions. Mental disorders can be the precursors or consequences of a wide range of underlying conditions like non-communicable diseases, injury, violence, as well as maternal and child health conditions. And that is not it. Anxiety disorders often serve as the harbingers of an undiagnosed cardiovascular disorder. Non-recognition of these associated mental health problems leads to delayed diagnosis and thus, delayed recovery.

Another aspect of mental well being can be seen in its association with longevity. Studies have shown that those who suffer from mental health challenges often lead shorter lives than their healthier counterparts. Depression has been linked to a 50 percent increase in a person’s risk of dying from cancer and a 67 percent increase from heart disease. Lack of a longer life.

Expectancy also stems from the hypothesis that less optimistic people are also less likely to take care of their well being. This being said, the relationship between physical and mental health isn’t the only reason why promoting mental healthcare is an urgent necessity in the country. Our mental health affects our ability to think, feel, act, and establish a connection with our surroundings.

Any hindrance in the process can prove to be highly detrimental to our personal development, our behavior our relationships with loved ones as well as our ability to participate in healthy behaviors. Untreated mental disorders can lead to worsened conditions over time, physical health issues, and financial problems, lack of job stability, prison, and suicide. On the contrary, positive mental health can allow people to cope with stress, boost work productivity, and realize their true potentials.

Societal restraints persist though. While over time our society has adopted a more open approach, individuals still often hesitate to consult a mental healthcare practitioner owing to the fear of discrimination. The word Health is almost unanimously understood as physical health. While the benefits of good physical health are promoted across the media, the subject of mental well being is often brushed off leading to neglect and marginalization.

Lack of awareness further deepens the furrow between the two aspects of healthcare. Physical health is often prioritized. We really need to understand that mental health is as important as physical health. If we walk, jog or run daily, then it is good for our health but what about our mental health? Why are we not concerned about our mental health? Just taking care of physical health is not enough. We should think about our mental health also but how to do this?

Here are some ways by which we can take care of our mental health-

1) Don’t suppress your emotions – Everyone must talk about their emotions. If you suppress your emotions, it will damage you from inside. Talk about what are you feeling, what kind of emotions do you feel inside. Are you happy? Sad? Anxious? Depressed? Just say whatever is on your mind.

2) Always be in touch with your family, friends, relatives. Even if you are so busy, you can manage your time to meet your loved ones in the evening.

3) Read Positive quotes, positive books, or any motivational video of your choice. These will fill you with positivity.

4) Take care of your meals. People usually ignore this fact but your food affects your mental health.

5) Do meditation, deep breathing exercises on a daily basis.

Psychological wellbeing, on the other hand, barely finds the light of the day amidst busy calendar schedules and other constraints.

Leading a balanced life is the key to a healthy body and mind; having a healthy body and mind, the key to longevity. Our lifestyle preferences are often the culprit of this struggle. Adopting healthier practices like meditation, exercising, keeping a healthier diet, getting enough sleep, mineralizing smoking can not only have a positive influence on the mental but also improve our physical health. The Mental Healthcare Bill of 2016 not only pushed the subject to limelight but also helped optimize how mental healthcare is delivered in our country. Today, mental healthcare in India is significantly more accessible and better recognized. Despite this, we are at the beginning of a long road and hopefully, we will keep progressing. Good health, after all, is a blessing!


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