According to a report, men consisted of more than 70 per cent of the people who reached out to the national mental health helpline KIRAN.
The report was released by India’s Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. It reflects the trends it witnessed since the helpline had launched. The helpline KIRAN (1800-599-0019) was developed in September 2020 by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) of the Ministry. The helpline-- which offers mental health rehabilitation services like psychological support, distress management, mental well-being and promotion of positive behaviours – received 13,550 calls in a span of four months (September 16 2020- January 15).
The report states that the majority of the callers were men (70.5 per cent). Mental health experts say that around 10 per cent to 15 per cent of people suffering from depression can commit suicide. “If (depression is) left untreated it can be severe in intensity and can lead to even suicidal tendency, a psychiatric emergency,” said P K Dalal, President of Indian Psychiatric Society in a webinar hosted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
If that isn’t worrying enough, India suffers from the highest suicide rate in the South- East Asian region, according to a report by the World Health Organisation. The pandemic-induced lockdown last year hasn’t helped bring that number down. According to a survey conducted by GOQii during the lockdown, 43 per cent of Indians were suffering from depression.
It can be inferred, that the rising number of suicides in the country in parallel with increasing awareness of mental health is what helped bring India its first national mental health rehabilitation helpline into existence.
The report by the Ministry states that the majority of the calls (75.5) were from people in the age group of 15 to 40 years. Students constitute 32 per cent of the total callers. India is infamous for its high suicide rate among students, with one student committing suicide every hour in India. The lockdown had put more anxiety on students’ shoulders due to uncertainty about their future, loneliness and lack of interaction with friends.
The report also states “Majorly the challenges faced by the callers were related to anxiety (28.5 per cent) and depression (25.5 per cent); while few others included pandemic-related challenges (7.8 per cent), suicidal tendency (2.8 per cent), substance abuse (3.4 per cent) and others miscellaneous (32 per cent).”
While 78.2 per cent of the callers were seeking professional help for their own mental health, 21.8 per cent were calling to seek advice on ways to help their friend, family, spouse or others. While our country is still a long way from getting rid of the stigma around mental illness, watching people seek medical help for themselves and others does shine a ray of hope.