Stress, Self-Care & Suicide: Our Top Mental Health Stories of 2019
Mental healthcare awareness is rising, but there is miles to go. Our series focuses on people’s stories and shedding the stigma.
Mental healthcare awareness is rising, but there is miles to go. Our series focuses on people’s stories and shedding the stigma.(Photo: FIT)

Stress, Self-Care & Suicide: Our Top Mental Health Stories of 2019

Over the years, hearteningly, mental health awareness has made waves. There’s more openness, discussions and less shame. Still, the WHO has called India the most depressed country in the world.

In 2019, FIT has tried to shed the stigma and report on India’s mental health - from the growing number of youth suicides to mental abuse within relationships.

We’ve also looked at mental healthcare in general, self-care and burnouts in our politically active community.

Here are some of 2019’s top mental health stories.

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1. Who Hurts When You’re Gone? Suicide Through the Eyes of Families

Losing a loved one to suicide is a pain like no other. There's confusion, regret, heartbreak and usually, no closure. How do families cope once you’re gone? How can families best equip themselves to recognise the signs of depression and save lives?

Through the stories of Raashi Thakran, who lost her brother earlier this year, Nyana Sabharwal, who lost her mother when she was 13, Shweta Mittal, who lost her maternal uncle, or Niraj Doshi who almost lost his life, watch how suicide impacts the lives of those around you.

Watch their stories here.

2. Mental Health in the Times of Protest

There’s anger, hopelessness, frustration and fatigue all at once - how do you care for your mental health?
There’s anger, hopelessness, frustration and fatigue all at once - how do you care for your mental health?
(Photo:PTI)

Recently, India has seen a nation-wide eruption of student protests and subsequent police action surrounding the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and NRC (National Register of Citizens).

When there’s a rising movement on socio-political lines, emotions run high and run out fast too. There’s fear of a growing listlessness, and many people have turned off the barrage of disturbing news for a break.

Watching images of trauma or participating in protests day after day is mentally exhausting, so how do we cope? How do people ensure that there is no burnout and that in the midst of the chaos, your mental health is maintained?

Catch the story here.

3. Dear Indian Parents, Toss The Taboo and Talk About Mental Health

Various anecdotes from mental health experts paint a picture of many Indian parents who believe that mental health issues are rubbish, some view them as shameful and an excuse for laziness.

We spoke with two young people battling mental health issues. Both say, their diagnosis was hampered by a lack of awareness on their parents part.

Listen to their stories here.

4. Meet Pranav Bakhshi, India’s First Male Model with Autism

Meet Pranav. A 19-year-old graphic design student and model, obsessed with music and fitness. Also, he has autism.

When he was younger, Pranav would pass by billboards peppered with faces of models and stars, all the while he dreamed of one day being there himself.

Watch Pranav’s journey here.

5. ‘How Are You Feeling?’: Dispatches From an Angry, Wounded Kashmir

There has been a simmering, seething mental health crisis silently brewing in the Valley. Anxiety, anger, helplessness and pent-up frustrations are boiling during almost 153 days of the lockdown post the abrogation of article 370.

But the crisis, like the rest of the Valley, has been forced to exist in silence - trapped voices of hopelessness with no outlet and no help.

Kashmir and her people have become sites of trauma and mental distress - and in the last 65 days that trauma is left unheard. What are people in Kashmir thinking right now? How are they feeling?

Read more here

6. Unmute Ep 5: The Subtle Art of Gaslighting

In 1938 British Playwright Patrick Hamilton wrote a play called Gaslight. It also got adapted into a an award-winning film in 1944. It’s a psychological thriller around a married couple — the woman comes from wealth and the husband realizes she is his jackpot and so he manipulates her into believing that she’s insane.

If you’ve heard of the term gaslighting - this is where it comes from. The expression gaslighting has been used in psychoanalysis a lot of time. It is an exceptionally common form of manipulation and yet it goes unnoticed by those who face it.

In this episode of Unmute, two women who were muted by gaslighting in their personal relationships speak out about their experiences. We also speak with queer therapist Ipsa James on how to identify and address gaslighting in any relationship. Tune in here!

7. What Goes on in the Mind of Someone Contemplating Suicide?

In India, suicide is a leading cause of death according to a Lancet study. While there are many reasons that lead to suicide, depression being one, what exactly happens inside the mind of a person who is about to end their life? What is happening to them at a chemical level? Are some people genetically more inclined to be suicidal than others? And lastly, what is that final tipping point or trigger that pushes people off the edge?

We got doctors to break it down for us, read more here.

8. “My Illness Is a Life Sentence”: Diabetics Talk Mental Health

“I was 25 and I never even expected that I was going to be a diabetic…”

Do I really have to take these injections forever?”

“Am I going to die early?

Diabetes is an invisible condition, and in its invisibility, we tend to miss how it truly changes a person’s life. We fail to go beyond the ‘sugar level’ and ‘insulin’ discussions, putting the very real mental consequences of the condition in the far shadows.

As something that lives with you, demands from you, and surprises you every single day, diabetes is bound to hamper a person’s mental state. In a lot of the patients, it causes feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, and even resentment towards their own selves.

In this podcast, FIT brings to you stories of five such individuals, read more here.

9. In a Toxic Relationship? This is How It Impacts Your Self-Esteem

No relationship is perfect. But sometimes you get caught in such a whirlpool of toxicity that you start losing your sense of self. You know that something is missing, and that something is you.

Being in a toxic relationship is like living your life with your hand over the self-destruct button, all the time.

So, how to identify if you are in one? This graphic novel can help you out.

10. Elections 2019: Is Election-Related Stress a Real Phenomenon?

The 2019 elections are finally coming to close with a thumping win for the ruling party and there is some sense of election ‘anxiety’, especially among those who supported the parties that lost the mandate.

From constant information bytes to family Whatsapp groups – these elections have seeped into our everyday lives.

On counting day especially, the stress levels are off the charts with some people worried about how the outcome will impact their lives. We spoke to a few mental health professionals to see if the nervousness was temporary and to find out what you can do to get through the anxiousness you may be feeling.

Read more here.

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