Participated in the 100m hurdles at school? You might know what it’s like to win through to mental health support in India.

We’ll admit, though: The hurdles you’ll face enroute to mental health require far more than the physical agility you (likely) no longer have.

This societal lack of understanding of mental health is unfortunately only one of those barriers keeping most of us from seeking help. And who are we to resist that most human itch of organizing these into categories?

  1. It’s all in your mind:

A favoured one-liner Indian falsism that doesn’t evolve with age. Confide in anyone about anything as ubiquitous as depression, and you’re likely to be called weak-minded, childish, to ‘man up’ or ‘grow up’ or ‘be stronger’.

The term ‘psychology’ itself resides in the Taboo Pantheon, alongside notable entries such as ‘consent’, ‘human rights’ and ‘fact checking’.

Indians fail to recognize that the brain, like any organ, can have chemical imbalances that affect its running. Maybe we should try “It’s all in your kidneys!” to someone with kidney stones?

  1. Go with your spirit, and your mind shall follow

Mushrooms have stiff competition with so-called spiritual leaders in India: they grow in the dark and thrive on rotting matter. Unlike mushrooms, there’s always some flavour of spirituality for everyone’s table. Commonly critical of evidence based medicine, psychology and any thought, this brand of preaching often lures those struggling with easy promises of ‘calm’, belonging and self-loathing.

  1. It’s just cheaper to get drunk

That most Indians cannot afford professional psychological services is a reality that cannot be educated away.

The average cost of a psychiatrist each 15-minute session hovers around INR 500, and that with a therapist for 45 minutes is at least INR 1500. We’re not even into the cost of prescription psychiatric medicines yet.

The median salary in India is arguably around INR 25000. Starvation or not paying rent just to pay your psychologist isn’t really a mood enhancer either, is it?

  1. Impressing the universe

“Log kya kahenge” is a religion that can justify hiding everything. Child abuse, psychological trauma and distress, martial conflict. We’re never short of rugs to cover up our troubles. Troubles that make us look ‘pagal’, obviously, take prime importance in being camouflaged.

  1. No import route for psychologists

Clear all these hurdles that came before, and you come up with one no amount of money, privilege or learning can surmount: we simply don’t have the numbers to help the country.

In most Indian states, documented mental health concerns average about 1500 per 100K of the population. With only half a professional for the same 100K people. That’s like one professional for 3000 cases. It’s that bad.

But what else do you think EFAA’s Enablers are being trained to handle?

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