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Break the silence: Addressing men’s mental health – The Shillong Times


Meghalaya reported 226 deaths by suicide in 2021,
almost six per 10,000 people, the majority being
common reasons related to marriage
Problems, family problems and illnesses.

By our reporter

SHILLONG, June 22: As June is celebrated globally as Men’s Mental Health Month, personal stories and statistics from Meghalaya underscore the critical need for greater awareness, support and resources for men’s mental health.
A compelling account emerged from a current college student who experienced depression after being bullied in high school. “At first I couldn’t trust my parents. When I finally did, they sought help from religious institutions and dismissed the therapy as ineffective. Only after I attempted suicide was I taken to a mental health expert. I’m still in therapy, which has been immensely beneficial. No one needs to feel apprehensive; Society has a lot to say, but does it really help you feel better?
According to the Health of the Nation’s States report, depressive and anxiety disorders are among the top 15 causes of years of healthy life lost due to disability (YLD) in Meghalaya (occupying the sixth and ninth positions, respectively) (Hay et al ., 2017). In 2021, Meghalaya recorded 226 deaths by suicide, approximately six per 10,000 people, with the most common reasons being marital problems, family problems and illness.
Dr Pakha Tesia of Shillong Mind and Wellness Clinic highlighted the importance of early intervention. “Prevention is superior to cure,” he said.
“Just as you would seek an x-ray if you are experiencing pain in your legs, you should seek help if you suspect something is wrong with your mental well-being. “Men frequently delay seeking help because of social expectations of strength and masculinity.”
Dr. Tesia further highlighted the grim statistics. “While women are more susceptible to depression due to hormonal factors, men are more likely to commit suicide, often due to the lethality of the methods used and impulsive actions. The patriarchal notion that men should embody strength and masculinity contributes to this issue. However, social media has been instrumental in encouraging men to seek help.”
Another man who sought anonymity told of his struggle with near-alcoholism after a setback in his career. “I was almost on the verge of alcoholism due to professional failure. “My friends helped me get through this,” he said.
“It is very important to have the right group of friends to support you during difficult times. Every time I cried, some friends told me to ‘shut up and be a man’, while others said it was okay to cry. I know who I keep close. “I’m in a much better place now, but those two years were the darkest of my life.”
An individual who identifies as gay shared his journey with mental health. “There was a moment when I thought about taking my own life. If it were not for the timely intervention of my parents, I would not be here today. I still struggle every day, but therapy has helped me not only with my mental health but also with my sexual identity. It was also an eye-opening experience for my parents, as they were new to many of these concepts, but still supportive and willing to learn.”
The urgency of addressing men’s mental health is reflected in national suicide statistics.
In 2022, India witnessed a rise in suicides, with 1,70,924 cases, up from 1,64,033 in 2021. Family problems, marriage-related issues, and illnesses accounted for more than half of these suicides. The male-to-female ratio of suicide victims was 71.8 to 28.2.
Dr. Tesia emphasized the critical need for professional help for suicide survivors. “We should not hide it because the chances of someone trying to commit suicide again are high.” Despite growing awareness, Meghalaya is facing a significant shortage of mental health professionals. “For physical health there are many doctors, but for mental health there are not enough,” Dr. Tesia said.
To address these gaps, the Meghalaya state government introduced a mental health policy in 2022. The policy aimed to establish a helpline, crisis teams and increase the number of beds dedicated to mental health care in primary centres. and tertiary. The policy also aimed to encourage convergence between the social and health sectors to provide comprehensive support; However, there has been no notable progress on the ground so far.

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