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Mental health is defined as a state of emotional, psychological, and social state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.

The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behaviour (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

  • Psychiatrist – is an MBBS Doctor who has done post graduate specialization in Psychiatric Medicine. He rules out organic causes and treats or manages the concerns using Medicines and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in addition to the other options like psychotherapies, EMDR technique, Hypnotherapy, etc.
  • Clinical Psychologists – are professionals who have done MPhil or PhD in Clinical Psychology and registered as Clinical Psychologists with Rehabilitation Council of India. They are qualified in doing psychometry, IQ assessments and identifying mental health disorders and manage with non-medical means like psychotherapies and behaviour modifications, etc. People who do just a BA or MA or PhD in psychology do not have the skills and knowledge of a clinical Psychologist.
  • Psychologists – These individuals are those who have done BA psychology and mostly deals with normal psychology and do not have certified training in abnormal psychology. They would not have done training in a hospital setting. They cannot identify or rule out disorders nor treat.
  • Speech and Language Therapist for speech and swallowing difficulties.
  • Community Psychiatric Nurse specialization has still not picked up in India
  • Occupational Therapist – helps in assessing the abilities of the individual concerned and suggests appropriate steps or measures that need to be made in the environment of the patient/client.
  • Special Educationist – helps in identifying and training children and adults deficient in Daily Self-help skills, Specific Learning Disorders like dyslexia, Slow learners, etc.
  • Psychiatric Social Worker – helps the client / patient in getting the benefits the government has to offer by liaisoning with the concerned departments.

Symptoms/Concerns are what the patient or his carers feel he is experiencing. They can be classified into:

General Symptoms
  • Afraid to speak in a group
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty understanding things
  • Eating and appetite concerns
  • Inferiority feelings
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Mood problems
  • Not able to sit still
  • Phobias
  • Sex related problems
  • Sleep concerns
  • Stress and tension
  • Stuttering & stammering
  • Talking to self.
Specific symptoms
  • Bed wetting
  • Checking unnecessarily
  • Compulsions
  • Confusion
  • Eating disorders.
  • Exhibitionism
  • Death wish – desire to die
  • Feeling that death is imminent
  • Grandiose thinking
  • Guilt feelings
  • Hearing voices
  • Increased suspicions and doubts
  • Obsessions
  • Persecutory ideation
  • Strange behaviour
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Unusual experiences like some body else is controlling the thoughts or actions, belief that somebody is doing black magic or “chathabadi” etc
  • Useless and repetitive thoughts
  • Alcohol Addiction
  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis, Grass, Ganja, Bhang
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Combinations like speedballing
  • Cough syrups and other Medicines
  • Gambling
  • Heroin, Morphine, Opium
  • Inhaling/Sniffing substances like Petrol, Glue, Turpentine, Whitener
  • Internet Addiction
  • LSD
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco: “Pan Paraag”, “Zarda”

Most common types

  • Clinical depression

A mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable.

  • Anxiety disorder

A mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.

  • Bipolar disorder

A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

  • Dementia

A group of thinking and social symptoms that interferes with daily functioning.

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

A chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

  • Schizophrenia

A disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly.

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviours (compulsions).

  • Autism

A serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A disorder characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.

The patient will meet a psychologist first who will listen to you talk about your concerns and symptoms, ask questions about your general health and ask about your family history. The psychologist will then make a genuine and non-judgemental assessment of the problems being faced by the patient. Depending on the findings, the individual will receive treatment under the expert care of either psychiatrist/ psychologist or both.

The information pertaining to the condition of a patient is the exclusive right of the patient and it is treated with utmost confidentiality.

Your psychiatrist might suggest involving family members in your assessment. They will discuss this with you first.

A psychiatrist may be required by law to share information or a person’s medical record with others. Generally, your psychiatrist will tell you first if they need to do this.

It can be accessed by others only with the consent of the patient/ NR.

Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.

Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2016, about:

  • One in five Indian adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Indians lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in India. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 Indian lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.

Myth: Children don’t experience mental health problems.

Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.

Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.

When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs
Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.


Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.

Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.

Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?

Fact: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.

Myth: I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health problem.

Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”
Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.

Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health problems. Promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to:

  • Higher overall productivity
  • Better educational outcomes
  • Lower crime rates
  • Stronger economies
  • Lower health care costs
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased lifespan
  • Improved family life

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes.