it was way back in 2006 when I was doing my post graduation in psychiatry and soon I realized the biggest barrier stopping people to seek mental health care or to continue treatment was “Stigma”. People used to come after years of suffering from a mental health issue. the family members will take the patient to faith healers, temples, dargahs and where not but they will never bring the patient to mental health care. The disease continues to progress, gradually damaging the person, his persona, his profession, his relationships, his capacity to initiate things or work everything getting damaged, ruined, the patient suffering but neither the patient nor the patient seek mental health care, and finally at last when they do, its often too late. The disease has done the damage and we mental health care professionals wonder why? what if the patient would have taken treatment at an earlier stage and continued with it? most of the time things could have improved substantially, life could have been saved, quality of life could have been saved. I remained perturbed for many days thinking what can I do for this and then I thought why cant I use my creativity for this purpose and then I wrote this song “Phool kho gaye” and then finally made a video to address this issue in whatever little way I could to spread awareness and reduce the stigma.
Stigma and ignorance is so deep that we don’t have the notion that mind can also suffer like any other organ of the body. for example the function of kidney is filtration, so what happens when kidney is malfunctioning? its function suffers that is filtration of toxins from our bodies suffer and their levels start rising up. so on the same lines one of the finest functions of brain is thinking and feeling, so when the brain chemicals are altered in subtle ways thinking and feelings starts getting affected and that’s one of the reasons how mental illness happens, apart from psychological and social reasons. but we tend to take our brain for granted as if it came with a guarantee that it will never malfunction while other organs may do. So when someone starts experiencing a change in thinking or mood or behavior, people don’t take it seriously and pass it off as a habit change, or a change in stars or black magic or patient deliberately showing the symptoms while he suffers from nothing and the “stigma” that once you are a mental patient your wisdom, your intellect and acts will always be seen with a suspicion of inadequacy and inefficiency forces the patient also to deny the existence of any such illness and delay or refuse treatment for the same. This is really unfortunate and needs to change, we need to give the same respect to the mentally ill as we give to physically ill patients and mental illness needs to be treated with same level of professionalism, dignity and seriousness as physical illnesses, then only the stigma will go away and holistic health will be a possibility. Remember there can be no health without mental health.