The lively talk show on Doordarshan

‘Mann Ki Baat’- Doordarshan’s popular series on Mental Health awareness has been demystifying psychological problems and mental illnesses for the regular viewer for some months now. What makes the problem very relevant is that through Doordarshan’s vast outreach, the programme is able to connect with vast swathes of rural and semi-urban population that do not have access to mental health care.

The series has already covered psychosocial issues of children, adolescents, women, middle as well as old age. Specific episodes were devoted to issues related to work pressure, managing negative emotions, inculcating positive thinking and emotional intelligence.

The series is now focused on issues ranging from anxiety, phobias, disorders to suicides. The very first episode in the capsule seeks to demystify some common misconceptions about mental illnesses.

More than any other aspect of health, we are most ignorant about mental health and mental illness. This is due to the taboo surrounding mental problems and people not wanting to discuss them or understand them better. There are countless superstitions and myths associated with mental illnesses. Not many people know what causes mental illness, how it is manifested and how to effectively deal with it.

Increased levels of literacy and awareness have not yet changed most people’s attitude towards people suffering from mental illnesses. People still look at mental illnesses and those afflicted with it in a stereotypical manner – mad, crazy, lunatic, weak minded and so on. Having a mentally ill person in the family is seen as a stigma and is generally kept a secret for fear of embarrassment, little realizing the impact of the stigma on the person already dealing with the illness. The second episode in the capsule aims to deal with this stigma and create awareness about the plight of those suffering from mental illnesses.

November 2010

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