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'Psychological, mental problems need to be treated like physical ailments'

Dr Anjali Chhabria talks about the stigma attached to treating mental illness in India.

Written by Dr Anjali Chhabria |Published : October 21, 2013 11:04 AM IST

mental illness stigmaOne of the biggest problems attached to treating mental illness is the fact that there's a huge stigma attached to admitting that one is suffering from mental illness. This leads to people often refusing to admit they have a problem. Most Indian families refuse to acknowledge that someone in the household suffers from a mental health issues because they believe that society will judge them. The truth is that mental health illnesses are as debilitating as physical ailments. No one would try to self-medicate or refuse to believe they have a problem if they suffered from a heart ailment. Similarly, you need to treat mental illnesses. Dr Anjali Chhabria, a practising psychiatrist with over the 20 years of experience tells us why we need to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness.

Physical ailments and disorders are considered serious issues and psychological problems also need to be treated with the same seriousness. People's difficulty in accepting that there is nothing wrong and that it's not intentional continues to promote the stigma attached to psychiatric disorders. We need to stop shoving crude labels like 'mad' or 'retard' on individuals suffering from mental illnesses. (Read: Mental illness neglected in India)

Often, behaviour like aggression or isolation, which are observed by others and considered part of an individual's nature or a passing phase, could actually be symptoms of clinical or psychological disorder. They need assessment and treatment.

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Also some psychiatric conditions need medication like physiological conditions and they work in the same way as non-psychiatric drugs by correcting the chemical imbalance and reliving unwanted symptoms. So you see, mental illness is just like a physical illness and needs treatment. (Read: 'Depression is as common as the common cold nowadays')

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