"India is suffering from a deadly mental health crisis," says a recent LiveLoveLaugh Foundation study titled How India Perceives Mental Health 2021. According to the survey, uncertainty, multiple lockdowns, loss of work and shelter, deaths of friends and family and closed educational institutions and workplaces have led to "a huge impact on the mental health of Indian citizens."
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However, on the positive side, more conversations about mental health cropped up during the pandemic. The study, which surveyed 3497 respondents spread across nine cities, administered between August 5 and September 9, also revealed an increase in the number of people aware of atleast one mental illness. In addition, the study showed that 92% of those surveyed said they would seek treatment and support a person seeking treatment for mental illness, a steep jump from the 54% of respondents in 2018. It also indicated a dramatic shift in people's perception of mental illness competence: 65% of people surveyed—more than double the 32% from 2018- believed that people with mental illness could continue holding jobs and leading stable, healthy lives.
In a press release issued by the foundation, Anisha Padukone, CEO LiveLoveLaugh, commented on the changes from the 2018 study. “Greater awareness of mental health is key to creating more acceptance and conversations. Since its inception, LLL has been committed to changing India's mental health narrative to create greater acceptance for persons with mental illness,” she says, adding that they are glad to see that gradual change has begun. “By encouraging open conversations, help-seeking behaviour, and other mental health interventions, we hope to help create a world where no one who is struggling feels alone,” she says.
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While these findings are certainly encouraging, there continue to be gaps in the system, as the study points out. For example, many respondents did not know enough about conditions like schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders and eating disorders, pointed out the study. In addition, there was also a lack of awareness around child disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHF) and autism spectrum disorders. As the release also points out, access to mental healthcare continues to be an issue. "Improving access to mental healthcare is a critical need and should be the focus of any planning discussions about the subject at every level of governance," said Dr Shyam Bhat, Chairperson of LiveLoveLaugh,