Dr. Kritika Gupta

Nisha, a 25 year old working girl, threw a fit at her father aggressively and left for her work. Ravi, a 26 year MNC employee shouted at his mother over some argument and locked his room. These relatable stories are of nearly every household in our society as the youth today struggle to maintain their bottled up emotions. While there are many talks, surveys, statistics, opinions on mental health, still the challenge of managing emotions particularly in youth is massive.

Someone has over expecting parents, someone has relationship issues, peer pressure, less self-esteem, low self-confidence, financial issues and the list is endless. The frequent and most common tags and medical terms generally given for toiling with these hitches are aggression, anxiety, depression. Some even succumb to substance abuse and suicide due to overburdened situations and circumstances beyond their threshold. Hence, are they at fault or our society, system is at fault?

Well this blame game has been extensively debatable and stretched, but who is at the receiving end – OUR YOUTH. It has been shown in studies on both animals and humans that during birth of child and early developmental stage, the environment needs to optimistic, positive and favorable for healthy mind and brain development of an individual which have long lasting impacts on the behavior. Researchers have identified certain receptors that are important for the critical programming of our neural network that particularly develop in our developmental stage. If the environment is opposite, unfavorable, and interferes with these receptors that leads in lack of emotional and cognitive abilities. It has been shown although that some characteristics like aggression, aids in the survival of mankind and serves as an asset for evolution, however elevated amount of aggression is again perceived and observed to be dangerous by many. There are several examples of youth involved in fighting, road rage, domestic violence and other additional crimes that stems from this innate tendency. Another most common label is anxiety, which is again widespread in young population.

Anxiety also is predisposed by genetic factors and environmental factors, as stated by researchers. Anxiety is further differentiated into panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, posttraumatic stress disorders, phobias. Each of them has a different symptom pertaining to that particular cause and situation. Several genes have been shown to play a role in these characteristics and some of them are heritable also that lead to the vast arena of mental myriad associated with anxiety.

Moving towards depression, it involves low mood, irritability, abnormal sleep and hunger, difficulty while concentrating & even hampers normal day to day activity. Despite its widespread prevalence, knowledge about its molecular aspect is primitive. Depression is also a side effect of many diseases like cancer, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, side effects of many drugs, and lastly through genetic percolation of stressful events and environment. Therefore these factors highlight that knowledge of genetic, neural makeup and awareness about favorable environment during initial days of infancy, childhood and adolescence and strategic ways of coping to unfavorable and unfortunate mishaps can certainly increase the chances of our youth being more mentally sound.

It is important for everyone to participate in mental well-being discussion and raise awareness about these issues because ultimately they will affect the physical health of youth, which will affect their working capacity and in turn affect our nation growth. Therefore a loop that is created of unfavorable circumstances that affect mental health which in turn affect physical health, which ultimately has socio-economic impact needs to be broken immediately. Thus, these issues needs to discussed with open mind and individuals struggling to maintain their emotion need not to be victimized, thus leading to DE stigmatization of these significant concerns.

The government has also taken several initiatives for the same and framed certain policies, these policies are made upon multiple consultations from experts from government as well as non-government organizations. In April 2021 Central Government of India launched “Mental Health & Normalcy Augmentation System (MANAS) for our youth in the age range of 15-35. It is a platform where our government encourages and promotes positive mental health and it is an integration of several public health platforms.

The state government of Karnataka has also launched “e-Manas: Karnataka Mental Healthcare Management System” in 2020, to digitize metal healthcare services and help in compliance of Mental Health Care Act 2017 and Rules (2018). Earlier the government had launched “Saathiya Salah” mobile app for particularly adolescents, it was launched as a part of  “Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram”, its aim is to focus on various mental, sexual and physical health issues.

Since dealing with mental health issues in rural health is a challenge, therefore Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research(PGIMER), Chandigarh, India launched “Clinical Decision Support System” to provide mental health care in rural and remote areas. Therefore, government too is coming up with policies, frameworks, technologies to support mental health in youth of our country.

Our youth has whole freedom to take responsibility of themselves and they should be guided, counselled about self-discipline & will power should be biologically, innately and strategically inculcated in them and not be forced. Any kind of judgement and discrimination should be avoided by family, friends, peers and colleagues leading to a holistic, hopeful and optimistic growth and improvement. The coping mechanism should be explained step by step patiently and regular monitoring should be done for the impact and advancement of the persistence of the same.

Thus, by this our young people will be mentally strong, have tough abilities, strive in tough situations, they can develop their own action plan in any undesirable situation. A mentally strong youth represents mentally strong home, family and nation. The way is quite long and full of hard work but certainly not impossible, it is surely achievable if we all come together, do our part and cooperate with each other rather than competing with each other.

Views expressed by Dr. Kritika Gupta, PhD (Sci) Biotechnology- Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai

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