Let's Talk Mental Health

By Aparajita and Muskan 2021-05-14

“Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

  Harry Potter, JK Rowling

Health: a state of being when your body, mind, and spirit function in perfect harmony. “Perfect” is definitely not a word that could be used to describe our current reality when stress is our constant BFF. With exams, projects, extracurriculars, even figuring out a time to indulge in hobbies is an added source of stress! Coupled with the raging pandemic, our customary de-stressors - sports, social interactions, or the casual walk in a park have become mythical memories of the past.

Yes, there is no tangible way to measure the discomfort of having to live within the four walls of our house, stuck with the same familiar faces, staring at the same screen for days on end. Yes, we are tremendously grateful for a lifestyle that shields us from the immediate visage of disease and decay. Yet, does that gratitude negate the magnitude of all the intangible problems weighing our heads down?

In the wake of Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s talk! … But wait is that all there is to it?

As a psychologist, I have conversed with far too many people asking me to validate the opinion that mere talking can solve the problems inside their heads. Since awareness of mental health issues is a relatively new topic, it is quite natural for adults to assume that speaking to friends and family is a much better solution to these “imaginary” problems (*adult scoffing*) than speaking to a professional stranger. Why should people be paid to simply listen and comment on our lives, right?

Having studied psychology for five years, I can safely say that there is much more to therapy than that! Can therapists read minds? No. Can they diagnose your problems from the information you provide, and assist you in formulating effective strategies to combat nervous breakdowns, anxiety, and/or stress? Yes. Professionals undergo rigorous training to understand the intricate ways of abstract emotions. A crucial part of our training is acknowledging the immense responsibility of treating people in their most vulnerable states. So, trust me when I tell you that therapists are the ones who strive the hardest to infuse every second of a typical hour-long session with value. As outsiders, they work twice as hard to understand your problems objectively - something that close acquaintances cannot achieve.

However, the first step to addressing the swirling whirlpool of feelings in your head is to acknowledge it. This can be very difficult. More often than not, we are not aware that we have a problem. And even when we do catch the drift, the thought of having “that conversation” with our parents can be extremely unnerving. However, in nine out of ten cases, you’d be surprised to know that your loved ones do care about your physical and mental well-being.

The conversation will still be difficult; mental health and psychology are still enigmas to most people. However, consistently trying to ignore negative thoughts is hardly a solution. You can hold a giant inflatable beach ball under the water, but it’ll come up the moment your hand slips! So, it is time we stopped repressing our feelings and started acknowledging them.

Different things work for different people, but practicing meditation, adhering to schedules, journaling, and breathing exercises are techniques that work across the board. You can also sign up for our latest mindfulness sessions or bombard us with your queries during our Instagram LIVE later this evening celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week. As educators and mentors, we at Athena are vested in our students’ holistic development. Whenever you need us, do reach out; we are always here to listen. Remember, “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light”!