Simi Mehta, Anshula Mehta
IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute organized a special lecture with Prof Vikram Patel, the Professor, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, USA; Co-Founder and Member of Managing Committee, Sangath, India on the issue of The Mental Health of India’s Youth. The lecture focused on the eminence of the burden of mental health disorders, whether it’s we ourselves who go through these challenges or our loved ones.
The discussion began with Prof Chandra, Professor and Head of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, Bangalore, and the Chair of the session, talking about the importance of creating services that are youth-friendly. She emphasized the need to realize how to help the youth who are otherwise physically healthy and feel that they do not need to seek help. The effort to build a Response to the Mental Health woes of India’s Youth.
She spoke about the need for the youth to co-create services to address mental health challenges, especially in India. During the pandemic, the youth faced many challenges with education, social connections, and lack of employment opportunities. The government needs to think of policies to help youth with mental health at this critical juncture.
She addressed the need to incorporate regular issues like problems in day-to-day life and distress caused by those. It is also important for health professionals to recognize and incorporate various methodologies to learn to build partnerships. As a professional group, mental health professionals are lagging behind in integrating and partnering with other groups to further the cause and normalize seeking help for mental health enough to be able to help those with problems, particularly the young people.
She highlighted the huge challenges young people are facing, especially in terms of sexuality and relationships, and most recently, the pandemic and its impact on their mental well-being. Thus, it is important to think about solutions much beyond mental health services. It is necessary to ensure that listening to youth and creating services that are participatory, which play a role in giving youth agency.
Prof Chandra further agreed with a fellow panelist, pointing the inadequacy of a pan India model. We need to have a more localized and regionalized approach to address mental health concerns. To be able to address the problems of people who have gone through conflict or intergenerational trauma, mental health professionals need to educate themselves before offering help.
Another important message she highlighted was that while we talk about participation from youth, we talk about community engagement as well, which is challenging in itself. However, youth is a good group waiting to engage themselves in various ways and efforts. If we can start a movement of engaging them, training them, and providing some support and direction, it would be a huge step in addressing the mental health and the general well-being of the youth in India.
Acknowledgment: Sajili Oberoi is a Research Intern at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi and Marketing and Communications Lead at BrainGain Global, New Delhi