Mental Health in the Digital Age
MUMBAI: On July 23, 2019, Asia Society India Centre hosted Dr. Amit Malik; Psychiatrist, Founder and CEO of Innerhour, Dr. Anjali Chhabria; Psychiatrist and Author and Shreevatsa Nevatia; Journalist and Author for a panel discussion on Mental Health in the Digital Age. The discussion was moderated by Harnidh Kaur; poet and author. This programme was the first part of Asia Society’s Public Health Series and was held at CoWrks, Worli.
Kaur commenced the discussion by asking the panelists what good mental health looks like to them in the age of technology and social media. Nevatia, while sharing his own experiences with mental health and social media, said, "We've become a society that fetishizes happiness, we want people to live idyllic lives, devoid of pain and trauma, but pain exists and trauma exists." He mentioned how the idealised portrayal of people’s lives on social media has lead to a competitive and inhospitable environment online. He also stressed on the importance of vocabulary when it comes to talking about mental health. Use of negative words such as addict might be what prevents people from seeking help.
Dr. Chabbria, a child psychology specialist, spoke about the importance of parental engagement with their children with regards to mental health. Mental health problems exist in all spaces and it is important to have a simple conversation around them and make help accessible to all groups of people. She further added, "The minute you use (derogatory phrases) you add to the stigma of mental health".
Dr. Malik admitted to the disturbing and scary side of social media but also emphasized the importance of a rationale in the use of technology. He further explained that the narrative of mental health lies with us. It depends entirely on people to have a healthy discourse and attitude towards it. He further explained that technology can be leveraged to solve the 95 per cent treatment gap for mental health in India since currently, only 5 out of 100 people in the country have access to mental health care.
The programme concluded with a question posed to the panel by an audience member problems around mental health in rural areas. The panelists went on to explain how identifying the mental health problems that are very susceptible to rural populations such as postpartum depression and making use of the psychiatrists and psychologists that are available in government hospitals is a step forward towards addressing the treatment gap for mental health in the country.
As reported by Shefali Mhatre, Intern, Asia Society India Centre
Watch the programme highlights here: