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When we say mental health it is commonly understood as the state of mind of an individual. Upon hearing this word it is interpreted in different ways. Since mind has no structure, it is almost difficult to predict what one is thinking and say the same being completely sure.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well being. To be healthy in this state refers to not have any mental illness. Sometimes it is within our control and sometimes not. Often people having some difficulties in mental health or those who need help with it are termed as mad. This is a matter of growing concern as mental health is not receiving due attention in society. Without an attempt to understand the situation the sufferer is undergoing, people tend to label them as they please.

Empathy is too far but a little sympathy, is it too much to ask for?

Mental problems are two words that carry a lot weight. In other words, it encompasses a wide range of disorders like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), ADD(Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD(Attention Deficit  Hyperactivity Disorder ), schizophrenia, amnesia, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, phobias, dementia, autism, and many more.

It is often said that mental illness happens to the youth in modern times due to their stressful lifestyle. But this can happen to anyone at any point of time irrespective of the age, although the lifestyle or surrounding conditions might be a contributory cause.

Several artists lived with mental illness and their paintings are reflective of this fact. One of them is Vincent van Gogh. So it’s not always true that happens to only a chosen few.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890 :-

At the age of 27, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo: “My only anxiety is, how can I be of use in the world?” Over the course of the next 10 years, it seemed that van Gogh had gotten closer to finding an answer to that question: through his art, he could leave a lasting impact on the world and find personal fulfillment in the process.

Unfortunately, despite his enormous creativity during this period, he continued to suffer from what many have speculated to be bipolar disorder and epilepsy.  During that time, he documented in letters “episodes of sudden terror, peculiar epigastric sensations, and lapses of consciousness.” Especially during the last two years of his life, van Gogh experienced bouts of high energy and euphoria following bouts of periods of deep depression. In 1889, he voluntarily committed himself to a mental hospital in Provence called Saint-Remy. While under psychiatric care, he created a stunning series of paintings.

Just 10 weeks after his discharge, the artist took his own life at the age of 37. He left behind an enormous legacy as one of the most creative and talented artistic minds of the 20th century.

It turns out, despite a lack of recognition during his lifetime, van Gogh had more than enough to offer this world. One can only imagine what more he could have created if he had lived a longer life.

Depression is a commonly heard term but most of the times it is misinterpreted for momentary sadness, especially by the youth. The reason for mentioning this is because the word is being wrongly used to refer to something that is not even near to its meaning. Depression occurs not due to a moment, a day or a month’s sadness but six prolonged months of this condition.

Also for any psychological disorder, it is not possible to nor should it be concluded that a person has a particular disorder. Proper tests have to be conducted and only after reports arrive, it can be said whether a disorder has been detected.

Before this is done, identifying a person with a disorder is unethical and after detection, proper diagnosis should be done.  Saying that someone is suffering from a disorder is technically incorrect because it is not a disease but a condition.

Often the role of psychiatrists and psychologists creates confusion among people. So speaking about mentally health, it is necessary to differentiate between the two professionals.

A psychiatrist is a doctor or a holder of an MBBS degree. He/she can prescribe medicines. They are consulted in case of a severe disorder in a person when medicines are to be given and they’re uncontrollable by any other way.

On the other hand, psychologists are people who don’t hold an MBBS degree and hence can’t prescribe any medicines but can give therapies to patients. A psychologist talks and listens to patients who share their problems with them.

In today’s world it is rare to find someone to confide in or share thoughts and feelings, leading to a lot of stress from a very early age. So these individuals can talk to the psychologist without any fear of being labelled or hesitation, with time because they’re professionals and know how to deal in a situation like this and hence, wouldn’t be judgmental.

But a psychologist doesn’t solve problems. He/she listens to those in difficulty and takes them to a stage when they are capable of solving their own problems.

Another misconception within psychiatrists and psychologists is that they don’t refer patients to each other thinking that they’ll lose their patients. This doesn’t make sense as the job of both the professionals, are different and both play an important role. When the case is very severe, medicines are required to control the nerves, which calls for a psychiatrist. Other times can be well handled by a psychologist when medicines are not required.

Also Read :- The River of Lost Soul

Since the ones affected by this are not often attended properly, they need us to help them- to talk about it freely in public, to share their issues troubling them and feel lighter, and most importantly, to not be labelled as a mad person.

So let us all pledge to create an open environment where mental health is supported and people can bring their full selves to work. If things work out the way they should, the rest will all follow and mental health would no longer remain a taboo in society.

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