There is a little boy somewhere who he says he hears things that nobody else does. Although his mother insists that she needs to take him to the priest because she thinks he is possessed by evil spirits, the truth is that he is schizophrenic.
On the other side of town is an adolescent boy who dreads waking up every morning because he knows that his breakfast includes a big bowl of anxiety. What he does not know is that just down the street, his favourite uncle has been diagnosed with clinical depression. All he knows is that Uncle Henry is always the life of the party and that he loves garlic bread.
This week sunlight finally made its way into the darkest corners of the room. To the places where people silently cry themselves to sleep every night. The Supreme Court of India has declared that for the 1st time ever, not just physical, but mental illness will also be covered under insurance in India.
Since November 19, 2022 is being observed as International Men's Day, let us take a moment to pause and check in on all the men that have grown up hearing the phrase “men don’t cry”.
Take the time to give your father a tight hug on the days that he laughs a little louder than usual and do not forget to spend some time with your annoying little brother who always has earphones on.
As of 2020, the suicide rate among men was 4 times higher than women. The mental pressure that men go through is something that is often lost in translation. “We have to be strong or else we are not considered men by society,” they say.
There are many factors that can contribute to mental illness like genetics, chemical imbalances in the brain, environmental factors, trauma and more. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the tower of expectations of men grows every year. It is often more unstable than we realise and, before you know it, the tower has crumbled down, crushing them underneath it.
Although they never complain, what we need to realise is that before gender comes into play – we are all just human beings.
“Talking about the saying ‘men don’t cry’, I disagree. I think everyone cries, regardless of the gender. The mentality that has gone down for generations that men are strong and that crying is sign of weakness, has got to stop. I have personally had extreme highs and lows, and can assure you that nothing can make you feel better than a good cry session,” said psychologist Arthur Fernandes.
People with mental health issues are vulnerable. They often fear being labelled mad or crazy by the people around them, which makes it impossible for them to reach out to ask for help.
Another reason that they fear is that their families will be ostracised from society because of them.
There is nothing more heart-breaking than losing someone and remembering that the last time that you saw him, his eyes were swollen. And it was not because the paani puri was too spicy like he claimed it was, but rather because he already knew that it was the last time that he would have a paani puri competition with you – that is probably why he let you win that time.
It is our duty to change the narrative. The lack of empathy and the societal stigma surrounding mental health is why we lose so many men to suicide every year.
This initiative by the Supreme Court is a light at the end of the tunnel that will help all sections of society access psychiatrists and therapists, and help them obtain the solutions to their mental health problems.
In the meantime, remember to be kind. Because as you are reading this. That little schizophrenic boy is now a minute older and can hear the voices even clearer than before, while the boy on the other side of town is attending Uncle Henry’s funeral.
And the only thing he can think of is how he would rather be enjoying this slice of garlic bread with Uncle Henry than be making trips to the cemetery every time he misses Uncle Henry’s energy.
If you, or someone you know, is facing mental health issues then you can contact any of these organisations.