Mental illness is still considered a severe disorder like schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by a majority of people, indicates a report on Public Perception Towards Mental Health in India.
The report, by The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), was launched in New Delhi on Friday by its founder and actess Deepika Padukone.
The findings are based on views of 3,556 respondents across eight Indian cities, and highlights the importance of focused stigma-reduction programmes in mental health initiatives.
As many as 87 percent of the respondents felt mental illness is a disorder.
Illustrating the poor understanding of the broad spectrum of mental illness, respondents were unlikely to associate mental illness with symptoms of more common mental disorders such as anxiety, when describing people with mental illness.
Deepika, who had earlier opened up about battling depression, told the media: “When we were talking about more celebrities coming out and speaking and when we were talking about stigma, there is a lot of miscommunication that depression happens to people who are successful.
“I want to clarify that it can happen to anybody from any field. There is a perception that it happens to big (popular) people who are successful. It is sometimes perceived as luxury… (But) It is important to break that myth.”
The survey also revealed high prevalence of stigma with 47 per cent of the respondents using the word “retard” to describe people with mental illness.
Further, 60 per cent of respondents believe that people with mental illness “should have their own groups to avoid contaminating healthy people” and 68 per cent believe that they “should not be given any responsibility”.
As many as 60 per cent of the respondents believe that mental illness is caused by a “lack of self-discipline and willpower”.
TLLLF 2018 National Survey Report: ‘How India Perceives Mental Health,’ is the result of a five-month research project commissioned in July 2017 by TLLLF.
Deepika was accompanied on Friday by Sanjeeva Kumar, Additional Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare and Anna Chandy, Chair of TLLLF’s Board of Trustees and Dr Shyam Bhat, Trustee – TLLLF, for the report’s launch.
Chandy said: “Traditionally and historically, India is a collectivistic society, now slowly moving towards a more individualistic one.
“In larger cities, we see a more dramatic shift towards individualism, possibly due to an increase in the amount of access to information and migrant need for survival.
“However, smaller cities like Kanpur and Patna seem to retain some of their collectivistic roots, and are moving towards an individualistic society at a slower pace.”
Some of the other key highlights of the report are; approximately one in two people associate “being healthy” to “happiness”, one in two people link “being healthy” with “having a sound/healthy mind”, almost half of the participants used words such as “retard” or “crazy/mad/dtupid” while describing people with mental illness.
As many as 92 per cent of the respondents believe that people with mental illness should visit a specialist doctor.