I hope that reading my story might help others feel less alone. It is important to know that other people are fighting the same battles. This is for anyone who feels stuck, overwhelmed or hopeless. You are not alone, just try to hold on.
This is one of the personal narratives of a youngster who was part of a study that aimed to understand the first-hand experiences of mental health problems, based on information shared by young Indians through the website http://www.itsoktotalk.in.
The ‘It’s Ok To Talk’ website http://www.itsoktotalk.in was launched on WHO World Health Day, on April 7, 2017, as part of a public initiative by the Goa-based NGO Sangath.
The study, published recently in the British Medical Journal — a peer reviewed journal — analysed 37 submissions by 33 authors aged 19-31 years from seven Indian cities (New Delhi, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Haryana). These were first-person accounts by people with self-identified mental health problems, submitted in any media format for online publication by authors aged 18 years or older who were based in India.
Professor Vikram Patel, global mental health expert and one of the researchers of the study, said few studies have explored first-person accounts of mental health difficulties faced by the youth. This study has found that personal narratives offer a window into young people’s self-identified priorities and challenges related to mental health problems and recovery. Such insights can inform anti-stigma initiatives and other public awareness activities around mental health in youth, Pattie Pramila Gonsalves, lead researcher, said.
One of the researchers, Sweta Pal, said four themes were identified: living through difficulties, mental health in context, managing one’s mental health, breaking stigma and sharing hope.
Overall, the participants expressed significant feelings of distress and hopelessness as a result of their mental health problems — many described the context of their difficulties as resulting from personal histories or wider societal factors, a general lack of understanding about mental health and widespread stigma and other negative attitudes.