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Is Mental Health Being Used As A Mere Tool For Commercial Gain Lately?

Being brought up in an Indian household, any discussion on mental health has almost been taboo. Indian parents highly fail to acknowledge the fact that mental illness is real, neither imaginary nor insanity.

At times we ourselves fail to pause our busy lives and keep a check on our own mental health as we do for our physical health. It is not until recently that we are talking about it in large numbers via social media as well as popular culture and the need to address mental health issues has received worldwide importance.

While the need to spread awareness is well justified, there are times when the hype is created in the name of awareness just to gain mere commercial benefit.

Social Media And Hype

Just like in most other cases, the most prominent agent in creating this hype is none other than social media. Every day one might come across some social media post that speaks about mental health.

While some are just posts reminding you to keep a check on your mental health by keeping calm, breathing deep, letting go of unnecessary worries and so on, others are posts that actually promote or suggest you seek help from mental health professionals.

While these are well-meant (supposedly) what’s wrong with such things is the way they try to get your attention and cultivate unnecessary fear in you, which is ironic.

For instance, in the former scenario, you might come across a post that goes like, “If you’re seeing this, just slow down and relax.” What if the real reason why you’re behind at work is not because you’re stressed or depressed but simply because you’re just lazy and have a tendency to procrastinate?

These kinds of posts often get you into believing that you are actually suffering from mental ailments even when you’re not! At times they even go a step forward and recommend counselors and therapists to cure the same! If that’s not a marketing strategy, then what is?


Also Read: How Social Media Motivational Quotes Can Be More Confusing And Detrimental To Wellbeing


Commercialization Through Cinema

As we all know, cinema acts as a catalyst in almost everything that goes on around in society and in our lives. Needless to say, it also influences our day-to-day behavior and preferences on what we buy, what we wear, how we carry ourselves and so on.

They promote ideas, practices and spread awareness on various issues with mental health awareness being no exception.

Lately, Indian cinema has produced a wide range of films revolving around a variety of mental health issues and mental disorders, including

  • Marathi film, Devrai (2004) dealing with mental breakdown;
  • Black (2005) depicting Alzheimer’s;
  • 15 Park Avenue (2005) depicting schizophrenia;
  • Taare Zameen Par (2007) on dyslexia;
  • My Name Is Khan and Karthik Calling Karthik, both released in 2010;
  • Barfi (2013) depicting autism;
  • Tamasha (2015); Dear Zindagi (2016) about depression and
  • Kaasav (2017) about depression, treatment, suicide, care, and loneliness –

and the list goes on. So what’s wrong with that? You might ask.

A lot of times, the way in which cinema, especially Bollywood depicts mental disorders is far from reality. While at times the differences are pretty obvious, at times they’re subtle. For example, let’s take the popular movie Taare Zameen Par in its depiction of dyslexia.

First and foremost, dyslexia is not a mental disorder but a learning disability. The fact that the scriptwriter grouped it with other mental diseases demonstrates how mental health is misunderstood. It’s possible that psychologists accept that dyslexic people are more prone to have various types of learning difficulties or psychiatric illnesses as a result of their dyslexia. 

Furthermore, according to the Theory of Reception Studies, what the audience understands is reliant on the larger social and political environment in which the film is produced and consumed, not what the writer, producer, or director wishes to convey.

So often it is all about hyping mental disorders, exaggerating them and using them as a mere tool to grab greater audiences, irrespective of whether it’s actually spreading proper awareness or not. 

Others

These days even if you go to a doctor for physical problems, there are odds that they would refer you to a psychiatrist. I have personally witnessed physicians recommend psychiatrists for patients suffering from orthopedic problems – something which didn’t make enough sense to me!

In certain cases, it is mostly the patients’ unhealthy diet and lifestyle that is the root cause of their improper day-to-day functioning and has got nothing much to do with their mental health.

Counselors have become a common sight in educational institutions today. While they are important in the proper well-being of a student, at times they are not effective enough.

I personally had a very difficult time opening up during my counseling sessions, not only did it seem useless but was also pretty mechanical to interact with a professional stranger who is completely unaware of my circumstances. It was way easier and most importantly effective for me to talk to my friends and teachers about what was going on inside me. 

At times, it is pretty normal for us to feel sad about our circumstances – all you need is some changes in your life, and a good conversation with someone you share the right rapport with.

These are way better options than consuming antidepressants that come with a varied range of side effects from headaches to suicidal thoughts!

Remember that being sad is not equivalent to being depressed, being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you have OCD, being moody doesn’t mean you’re bipolar and being an introvert is not a sign of ASD. 

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments down below!


Sources: Daily Pioneer, Psychology Today +more

Image Source: Google Images

Find the blogger @ParomaDey

This post is tagged under mental health, social media, Facebook, Instagram, therapy, positivity, fake positivity, Taare Zameen Par, Dear Zindagi, Chhichhore, Black, Barfi, 15 Park Avenue, My Name Is Khan, Karthik Calling Karthik, anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, ASD, counseling, antidepressants, suicidal thoughts


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