Although things have got better in recent years, handling mental health challenges remains a struggle for most Indians. A study found that nearly half the country’s population does not have much awareness about mental health or access to a mental health facility within 20 km.

Though the understanding that mental health must be treated on par with physical health has grown, mental illness can still be heavily stigmatised in a country where people are still dismissed or even caricatured as paagal or crazy.

Mental health is also an even bigger concern for specific sections of society: women are twice as likely to be prone to anxiety or depression, with little support provided particularly in situations – such as immediately after child birth – when the risk is the greatest.

Meanwhile, very little work has been done to understand how structures such as poverty and caste affect the mental health of huge swathes of society, and what is being done as part of the healthcare system to address this.

With all this in mind, occasions like World Mental Health Day offer a useful forum to discuss concerns over mental illnesses and everything from access to stigma. While the broader questions of addressing mental health at a societal level are important, it is also useful to think about how we handle these issues at a personal level – and what we can do to break the stigma around discussing it.

Tell us what has helped you better handle your own mental health, and what thoughts you might have about how we can break the stigma.

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