April 7th is the World Health Day, as decreed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) , a specialised agency of the United Nations. This year on this day, it launched its anti-depression campaign ‘ Let’s Talk ’. This is a worldwide campaign intended to raise awareness about depression and enable countries to cultivate better facilities to deal with this illness. In India depression carries a social stigma and isn’t viewed as just another bodily illness, but as an unacceptable condition that needs to be brushed under the rug.
In a country like ours, it is of paramount importance to normalise depression as a regular illness, and trigger dialogue around it, so that diagnosis of this illness is made easier. The 2012 report released by WHO finds that the largest number of suicides in the world take place in India. A leading cause of suicide is depression and it is crucial that we create a society which allows for people to be vocal about this illness, as opposed to suppressing it until it results in their death.
In support of the ‘ Let’s Talk ’ campaign, All India Bakchod, a popular YouTube channel released a video that satirises the tendency in our society to deny depression as a legitimate illness, and the log kya kahenge (what will people say) overdrive it invokes in us. Comedy has traditionally been a critical mirror to society and has recently taken up this cause and received immense social media backing.
While the WHO campaign is intended at not just awareness, but at actually ensuring that countries are equipped with the resources and expertise necessary to deal with this illness, awareness itself is an important concern in our nation. It is important that we treat depression as any other illness, which manifests differently in each individual. In certain cases, there might be grave cause for worry, while in others it might be easily dealt with, but in both of these circumstances, it is necessary to consult a doctor and receive the necessary treatment, without jumping to one’s own conclusion. Asking a patient of depression to ‘get over it’, is like asking a cancer patient to stop their cells from multiplying out of sheer will. It simply is not possible.
It is also important to understand, that depression might be preventable if we are generally conscious of the social environment we create. As the urban youth, we are perhaps the demographic which is most accepting of the fact that depression is a reality and not an unspeakable sin. However, as the youth, we are also the ones that foster unhealthy environments in our social circles, and it’s time we owned up to it.
Adolescence being a time of self-discovery inevitably makes us all more defensive, or more hostile towards our peers. However recognising this and owning up to it, as opposed to dismissing it as an allowable teenage discrepancy, will make all the difference. As the urban youth that recognises depression as a real illness, our duty goes beyond creating awareness, to preventing depression. It falls on us to not give into perpetuating ostracisation, and stopping to genuinely ask people how they’re doing if we think something is wrong.
Considering that ‘ Let’s Talk ’ is a worldwide movement, there is no better time to be vocal about everything we can do in tackling depression since right now is the time that maximum people are listening. Every time we choose to talk about it, we are taking a step forward.