Bengaluru: The stigma attached to mental health disorders is gradually on the wane, thanks to growing awareness, and visiting a psychiatrist for clinical help is on the rise, claim health experts.
They point out that mental health problems can affect anyone, irrespective of age, and early treatment can help in recovery. They, however, pointed out that mental illness affects men and women in different ways. Disorders such as depression and anxiety are more common among women.
City based psychologists from the city said they see more number of young girls and women seeking treatment for mental health.
Dr Raghu K., consultant psychiatrist at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals, said, “It’s true that women and young girls face stress, depression and fear about their body image created by the social media and peer group. Suicidal attempts are rising sharply among teenage girls, from 16-22 years. Due to an increase in the body-dissatisfaction, they develop low self-esteem leading to mental turmoil among the younger generation and women.”
According to psychologists, among women those in the age group of 20 to 45 are more prone to mental health issues, nearly 75 to 80 percent, followed by older women, who account for the rest.
WHO (World Health Organisation) also states that patients appear reluctant to pursue professional help. Only two in every five people experiencing a mood, anxiety or substance use disorder seek assistance in the first year of the onset of the disorder.
Akanksha Pandey, a psychologist at Fortis Hospital, said, “With greater awareness, availability, and acceptance, a lot of young women in their 20s and 30s are seeking help against the stigma of the society. It has also been observed that the young educated working couples seek professional help more often than witnessed earlier.”
She also pointed out that apart from awareness; financial independence, being a working or studying woman, or even as housewives, they cannot afford to be unwell (psychologically) as it affects their work life, academics and even relationships.
"Among other reasons, women are also seeking professional help in order to have someone neutral and non-judgmental to hear them out," added Pandey.
However Dr Karthik K.N., a consultant psychiatrist at Sagar Hospitals, pointed out that the assumption that mental health disorders are more common in women is not entirely true. “Most women are not victims of mental illness as they have an inherent capacity to handle stress more than men. Mental illnesses on an average are equal in men and women. But women tend to seek professional help due to a feeling of helplessness, but men try to cover it up either by hiding under the blanket of a substance or other defensive behaviors,” Dr Karthik said.
Experts say that women may be prone to some disorders (anxiety disorders) as they undergo a cyclic hormonal changes every month, but overall the prevalence is the same among both the sexes.
"Mental health is beyond any barriers of gender, status etc; it's a very personal yet quite a universal trait that anyone can experience. It's important we stop the stigma around and increase the normalcy surrounding mental health problems and provide the apt awareness and information about it," they said on World Mental Health day marked on October 10.