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What is mental health?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as a 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 is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Mental health is a positive and productive state of mind that allows us to bounce back and cope with the small or big problems and life’s challenges that we face.

What is a mental health problem?

Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. They affect around one in five people in India, and range from common mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, to more rare problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any physical illness – only you cannot see it. (Reference: Mind)

What causes mental health problems?

Mental health problems can have a wide range of causes. In most cases, no one is sure precisely what the cause of a particular problem is. For many people, the problem could be caused by a combination of factors, although some people may be more deeply affected by certain things than others. Poor mental health may be associated with rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, risks of violence, physical ill-health or human rights violations. (Reference: Mind, WHO)

Can the state of my mental health change?

Yes, it can. Our mental health is not fixed ; it can change depending upon a range of circumstances. It can be imagined like a continuum with positive mental health at one end, emerging mental health difficulties in the middle, and more serious mental health disorders at the other end. Depending on circumstances, a person can move back and forth along this continuum. We are all vulnerable to changes in mental health, that are minor and temporary, or significant in duration and impact. (Reference: Mind Matters)

How do I know if I need help?

If it’s becoming difficult to cope with your thoughts and feelings  and they are starting to have an impact on your day-to-day life, this might be a good time to consider talking to someone you trust.

How is a mental health problem diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a mental health problem, a doctor or a mental health professional may look at— the kinds of symptoms you are experiencing which can suggest different diagnoses, how long you have been experiencing these symptoms, and the impact they are having on your daily life. (Reference: Mind)

If someone I know is going through a mental health problem, how can I help them?

It can be hard to know what to do when supporting someone with a mental health problem. Most people experiencing a mental health problem will speak to friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so the support you offer them can be really valuable. It’s important to listen, stay calm and be patient. Try not to make assumptions about what is causing their feelings or what you think will help them. You can offer practical support to someone ready to seek help. For example, you can help look for information that might be useful for them, help them go to appointments, ask them if there are day-to-day tasks they might need help with and even read about the problem they are experiencing to think of other ways you can support them.
Supporting someone else can be stressful. So make sure you look after yourself and your own wellbeing so you have the energy and time to help someone else. (Source: Mind)

Do you provide counselling or any services?

We do not provide any counselling services. The objective of our website is to create dialogue around mental health. However you can refer to our page, ‘Find Help’, for videos containing practical tips and for information about helplines and other available options.

Why should I share my story?

Everyone has a different reason for writing. Maybe you want to write to express yourself and your own struggle and to inspire others with how to deal with their own struggles. Or to tell someone else they are not alone. Or to end misconceptions around mental health. Maybe you want to highlight a powerful moment in your life.

Stories on It’s Ok To Talk come from all perspectives — from young people who have first-hand experiences of dealing with a mental health challenge, those who have experiences of caring for a loved one. Stories might be shared by people with mental illnesses, disabilities, from patients, from family members and friends, from doctors and therapists, from educators and more. The more stories we share on It’s Ok To Talk, the more perspectives we gather.

Your story could inspire more young people to come forward and share their own stories, helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

How can I submit my story?

You can share your story with us in any any media form (blog/article, poem, video,  audio, photo  or  artwork). There are no rules for how your story can look or sound. We’ve also created some simple tips to help you put your story together. Visit the ‘Submit Story’ page to see these and share your story.

I want to be part of your project. How can I contribute or volunteer?

You can get involved with the It’s Ok to Talk initiative for youth mental health in a number of ways, depending on your area of interest and your capacity to help. To volunteer, support, or partner, please visit our ‘Get Involved’ page.