The world health organisation (WHO), report shows that India is at the top of the table when it comes to depression and anxiety with respect to our very own youngsters, compared to other countries. With 40,000 cases reported over the last 5 years and 1 out of every 4 a case of suicide, the figure just doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Where are we going wrong?
Depression, and anxiety are conditions classed as mental illness and is not only a mental state, but also has great impact on one’s physical state, manifesting in possible self harm, eating disorders, irritation and sleeping disorders to name a few. Does anyone not question, when we have a better standard of living, a significant few coming out of extreme poverty, more entertainment and opportunities, as to why our young generation feels so very dissatisfied with life and themselves. Have we just realised money doesn’t make us happy, or are we still trying to laugh at people who sprout such truisms. The condition is usually seen as an adult issue, but reports show, that more and more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with this state called depression.
To see what’s really happening in the world today, I thought I’d talk to clinical psychologist, Ridhima Sharma who could probably shed some light on the matter. According to her, It seems that the children of today, exist in a very confusing state where, even though they seem to be in touch with a lot of people on social media, in reality they are losing that so needed human touch of family around them. Where the older generation used to interact with family when they were younger, children today, have been taken over by smart gadgets which take over any ‘real connection’ time with an actual human being. Such is the new normal for children and future adults. So when it actually comes down to communicating issues or problems they may have, unfortunately they seem to have not developed the ability to do so.
If you look at it, they definitely have the ability to create a massive social network in a virtual world, but when it comes to real life issues, it’s pretty much an empty platform and that’s when it really hits them, the loneliness setting in because they have no one to turn to. Moreover, smart gadgets also seem to portray such perfectionism that they feel under great pressure to look and feel the same way, and start to believe that something is lacking in their own lives. The expansion of such mobile technology means they are constantly bombarded with information which activates their young mind on a daily basis, bad news for an already hormonally fragile state.
But of course, it doesn’t stop here, Shelja Sen, therapist, writer and co founder of ‘Children First’ finds, that the child’s sense of being misunderstood or not understood at all by adults, is really something that frustrates them because we as adults, especially in the Indian context, still trivialise the idea of any mental illness. Indian society sadly, even today, comes with a lot of expectation and pressure which gets too much for the small shoulders of youth. So are we another problem in their small life?
RE-EDUCATING THE ADULT TO EDUCATE THE CHILD
Our own country, still seems to suffer from the idea that mental illness is a taboo subject and is something to be ashamed of. We pretty much need to ‘man up’ and accept it . As adults, we need to first be able to open the channels of communication with our children and show them that we come with our own vulnerabilities. Specialists believe that in doing so, we become more normal and accessible, not the model of perfection that children have to live up to. This then melts away the barriers and you become a real life person that they can actually talk to. A suggestion for parents, is that we stop enforcing our own expectations on them because it defines us and think more about the child, preparing them for the road ahead. It’s tempting to want our children to follow the normal trajectory in life but we need to understand that all children are different with individual needs that need to be nurtured. It’s a shame that 70% of people don’t even seek professional help, which then eventually puts our country at the top of the wrong table. This needs to change, and for this to happen, we as adults need to change.
I think the pandemic has definitely taught us to expect the unexpected, and there is a need to open up to our children, who will become the healthy minds of tomorrow. Our time is done and it’s about the child who needs to be prepared for the future as times are about to become tougher. So rather than trying to create a mirror image of one self, we need to see the child as a separate entity and teach them how to face adversity, teach them that it’s ok to fall, and to not be overtaken by a sense of failure which leads to anxiety. Really the idea is about changing the way you think as an adult of today and maybe empathising with the one of tomorrow and finding away to strengthen that very mind rather than weakening it.
As they say, failures are the pillars of success and that’s because only when we fall, do we really learn and develop into a better version of ourselves. If a lot more people understood this, the world might have been a happier place.