Shadows of the mind


The following article has been written by the MITr team on the occasion of 10th October being celebrated as ‘World Mental Health Day’.

Mental health signifies a lot more than ‘being normal’ and ‘free of psychological disorders’, as per popular perception. According to the WHO, Mental Health is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders. Research has found that about 13%-33% of adolescents face at least some kind of a psychological problem which is quite a large number. Mental health involves being content and happy with oneself, achieving one’s fullest potential and maintaining harmony and peace with oneself as well as others.

World Mental Health Day

WHO discovered that more funding was needed to promote mental health to increase people’s awareness about the issue. In order to make mental health a global priority, World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992. Since then, 10th October is celebrated as ‘World Mental Health Day’ with an important mental health issue represented as a main theme to create awareness. This year’s theme is depression.

Depression is an intense feeling of sadness that affects an one’s everyday functioning. We may all go through happy as well as sad phases in life; no one is eternally happy; however for some people the phase of sadness may prolong and become repetitive leaving them hopeless and helpless. About 45 to 60% of all suicides in the world are committed by depressed people. According to the prognoses of the WHO to the year 2020, depression will get the first place in the world among all illnesses, leaving infectious and cardiovascular diseases behind.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Losing appetite or excessively indulging in food
  • Having considerable weight loss or weight gain (say 4 to 5 kgs) in the past two months
  • Lack of sleep, poor quality of sleep or excessive sleep even during the middle of the day
  • Withdrawing from company, even (especially) close family and friends
  • Lack of interest in work, social activities, leisure or hobbies that were interesting a while ago
  • Feeling angry, frustrated, irritated, and/or crying for no apparent reason
  • Feeling cornered and helpless
  • Hopelessness regarding the future

We may all have encountered one or more of the above aspects at some point in our life. It would be prudent to say that none of us are ‘eternally’ happy. We all experience periods of highs and lows (with reference to one’s emotions) in our life. However some may experience intense feelings of sadness that may be difficult if not impossible to shake away. This emotion may appear in the form of episodes which may haunt one repeatedly until the individual acquires a fear for these episodes.

Leela B, a counselor at Medall has this to say – “As counselors we have observed a few reasons for Depression among students –

Academic difficulties, relationship issue and poor self-esteem. Self esteem can also be a fallout of the other two issues.

Under academic difficulties, there are a number of factors such as poor academic performance, identity concern due to competition, losing focus and motivation due to burnout (the student realizes he is not a topper anymore and gives up performing completely),

PG students have problems related to their research, such as not getting an opportunity to work in their area of interest, lack of progress in their work and so on.

Relationship issues mainly involve break-ups. But there are also others who go through a low phase and decreased sense of self-worth due to rejected proposal. Interestingly, this is not uncommon at IIT.

When we are looking at depression we should also take into consideration the genetic factor i.e an individual’s disposition to get into depression when they face a difficulty.

As a common scenario, most students have struggled throughout their adolescent life to get into IIT and have given up their interests, social life and prepared themselves for the cut throat competition. After coming here, they are too exhausted to take up the same regime. They have doubts about themselves and their strengths,(sometimes, especially students coming from rural backgrounds) lack social skills and become disillusioned about the Institution,some possess an unhealthy competitive attitude that aggravates their insecurities. These are some precipitating factors that makes them vulnerable.”

Counselling Services at IITM

Counseling provides an opportunity to speak and be heard. A counselor is a neutral person who hears out people who approach him/her with their problems. He/she acts a non-judgmental friend and maintains confidentiality.

Unfortunately, approaching a counselor is often perceived as a taboo in our society. Counseling is generally understood as something prescribed for the mentally weak. On the contrary, the decision to approach a counselor indicates strength of character – it shows that an individual is able to realize that he needs to talk to someone and requires support.

Counseling is beneficial to everyone not just the ones with mental illness. It helps you have a healthy mental life which you can fully enjoy and appreciate and understand your main thoughts.

Last year, MITr initiated a free 24-hour professional counseling service for benefit of the entire student community with the help of Medall Health Care Pvt. Ltd. They can be reached at 044-22575555. The counselors are also available in person from 12 noon to 7 pm on weekdays and 12 noon to 5 pm on Saturday in Level 3 of Library just adjacent to Research Carrels. One can visit them at any time of the day, or can also book an appointment. More than 70 students have availed and benefited of the counseling services over the past one year.

For more details, one may visit, or may contact any MITr member.

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” – John Milton, in Paradise Lost.

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