With India emerging as a hotbed of mental health challenges, a new multi party initiative under the banner of Wellbeing Volunteers United is aiming to launch a coordinated multi dimensional effort to help people deal with mental illnesses and address the disturbing progression of depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
Wellbeing Volunteers United is a collective effort of different NGOs and organizations working in the field of mental health who bring varied levels of understanding and ability to solve today’s challenges. Together, this Collective aims to give a cohesive direction to India’s efforts to tackle rising mental illnesses and bring people to openly talk about depression, anxiety, financial insecurity, relationship anxiety, panic attacks as well as gender stereotypes.
The initiative has already been joined by several health organizations and NGOs including Poddar Foundation, PODDAR HOUSING, YMCA, ROTARY DISTRICT 3141, Inner Wheel, Elevation Barn, LiFE WiNS, MAKE IT HAPPEN, EMANCIPACTIONC India Foundation, Rotary Club of Bombay, inner peace university, PRIYADARSHINI ACADEMY, RED SWASTIK, FicciFlo Mumbai as well as the Rotract District 314. Foundations and Companies in wellbeing such as innerhour and roundglass, Wockhardt Foundation as well as Hospitals like Masina and Hinduja Hospital help assist our initiative. Manav Foundation, Helping Hands, Together We Can, Nexus Circle, among others.
We are using a collective platform, generously hosted by RoundGlass, for us to bring all our Volunteers into a space where they can communicate with each other.
This collective outreach is unprecedented and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the world. Dr. Prakriti Poddar, has been personally training volunteers and therapists alike and is certain that this United effort is the only way to uplift the spirit of India. According to her, “India gave the world yoga and meditation, and now we teach them how to collectively care for the mental health of our fellow citizens, after all, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
According to an analysis published in the Lancet Psychiatry In 2017, 197 million Indians were suffering from mental disorders of whom 46 million had depression and 45 million anxiety disorders. Other prevalent mental health disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, idiopathic developmental intellectual disability, conduct disorders, and autism. The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden has doubled between 1990 and 2017.
“Mental health is a huge yet understated challenge in India and is commonly prevalent in all age groups. According to the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16, at least 10 million 13 to 17-year olds have mental health problems and 9.8 million adolescents need active intervention to treat their illnesses. 47% of the elderly go through mental health challenges. This is an epidemic and it needs to be curbed. Unfortunately, a large number of people with mental health issues fail to find medical help. At Wellbeing Volunteers United, our aim is to bring together multiple organizations with capacities in different domains to launch a collective effort towards tackling the un-addressed disease burden. We aim to work together to reach out to the maximum number of people with innovative strategies,” said Dr Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation.
In India, financial insecurity, work-related stress and relationship issues comprise major triggers of mental illnesses. Other factors that exacerbate this crisis include culturally rooted stigmas that prevent people from talking about their mental health with shame, fear and lack of societal support holding them back.
A report published by the World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health predicts that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental illness will cost India $4.58 trillion between 2012 and 2030. While the World Health Organization asserts the effective treatment procedures and interventions exist the number of psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professional is significantly low. This shortage in supply can be attributed to lack of empathy as well as interest of people taking this as their career option.
“Various studies have shown that people need more support than our existing systems and practitioners can provide which is why I have thrown my weight behind Wellbeing Volunteers United in its effort to build a collective of people with purpose in their heart and know-how of specific problems the right application of which helps in restoring happiness among citizens dealing with tough problems” said Dr Prakriti Poddar.
The situation of every individual is different and so are the circumstances around them. However, to emerge from any problem resilience and mental strength is required which is easier said than done. There are many issues and problems both professional and personal which require a lot of help and Wellbeing Volunteers United does just that. It aims to adopt a wide range of strategies including mental health outreach efforts in rural and urban areas, in corporate houses and other workplaces, in schools and colleges as well as residential societies.
It employs a flexible approach wherein people with specific problems build their own groups and talk about them at length. Support groups help people release pent up frustrations and anxiety and enables them to find empathy. It is made up of a new breed of people who understand that they can be part of the solution can go beyond themselves to deliver to the society as they know that for everyone to be happy the society needs to be more affectionate and unbiased.