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Mental Health: Adapting to the “new normal”

Mental health has always been a stigma in our society which the younger generation has been progressively breaking. Coming out with a mental health issue itself is challenging enough, but the added pressure around the stigma has forced numerous people to bury it deep down. Phrases such as “you have to be strong enough”, “why are you going to a therapist? Is something wrong with you?” have been thrown around lightly ignorant of the impact it has upon the person on the other end. Every generation has dealt with its own unique issues without comparison. 

Our ‘normal’ has been redefined which is difficult for many to accept, while others try to adjust and cope, causes them to face issue that they weren’t aware existed. “I’m glad I have maintained my sanity this year” is something that we have heard repeatedly in 2020, and also proves to be a phrase that is valid pertaining to the current climate situation. To make it through safe and mentally/physically healthy this year itself has been challenging enough for many of us, whether getting help or not.

In our current circumstance it is all the more important to open up and understand each other, the on-going pandemic has posed challenges in many ways over this past year, making us realize the importance of a professional touch to our mental health. As social beings it is in our system to interact with each other and when that is stripped off, we tend to face situations that challenge our very core. The lack of acceptance has had a great impact on us this year, it has been proven that we are not equipped enough mentally, to deal with such a crisis and ride the waves.

Our life was very fast-paced before the pandemic, during this period there are different issues faced by a different group of people. This is the phase many relocate for either education or work, but the unforeseen circumstance has forced them to stay home or move back. Overall, a constant factor is the uncertainty about their future that has created anxiety and chaos in the minds of young adults, which has forced a lot of suppressed issues and emotion to be bought into light. It is all the more important now to surround yourself with people that are supportive and nudge you to take help you require when you’re suffering 

Sanjana Prasad is working with the mood space and mostly deals with young adults and, has seen an increase in the number of people signing up for therapy for various reasons. And thinks that it is not just the awareness, but the pandemic has definitely attributed to the cause and nudged people towards therapy. “I don’t know if it’s in terms of accessibility, awareness or if it is because the stigma is much lesser in our age group that a lot of people end up signing up for therapy because they know its ok to go for therapy and they don’t need to have a mental illness as such to have to go to therapy” says Sanjana. 

“We call it the myth of the hero. You leave your house thinking that you are escaping, and people are going to treat you differently and it’s all going to be different when you come back. A lot of people are very independent when they are away from home but when they come back, old habits start to come back too. You do actually grow as a person when you go outside and live, not to say that you didn’t adult well enough, none of that has changed, but when you come back home certain patterns tend to set in” says Sanjana.

In terms the virus itself, there has been a lot of anxiety and guilt that prevents everyone from making decisions solely considering themselves. Keeping parents in mind, there has been a lot of fear and paranoia that has set in. “From very existential terms, people are having questions about mortality and death. These are very common themes that have been coming up. We have something called ‘post traumatic resilience’, collectively as an entire globe, we are all going through some kind of trauma, our bare minimum has been stripped away. So, in that sense, there will definitely be resilience and growth completely dependent on how the seeds are being sown right now, which will totally differ from person to person” says Sanjana. The response in the future in regards with the pandemic will depend on the way we process it currently.

The educational institutions have been harshly criticized for the lack of communication and right instructions, which has created a frenzy and anxiety among students. Understanding this is a difficult and unpredicted time even for teachers and institutions, this is an added pressure factor for the students apart from the virus and lack of certainty. Appropriate response and sensitivity from the institution will help the students deal with their anxiety better.

However, approaching a therapist is an entirely personal choice and depends on the kind of issues you’re dealing with, having the freedom to do so without judgement when an individual see’s fit, makes the process more comfortable for them. This pandemic has paved way to this very approach in our society. Although it would have been beneficial for many to deal with it if they were already dealing with a professional, it is better late than never. 

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