Mental health and societal pressures

One cannot meet arbitrary standards

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community”. Learning and spreading awareness about mental health is important because “it encompasses our emotional, psychological and social well-being and affects how we think, feel and act”.

Mental health affects people in their daily life behavior, acts, interactions, and relationships. It also impacts physical health. Similarly, physical health, daily routine matters, and interactions, and acts affect mental health.

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Mental Health is like physical health that needs proper care and people should be made aware of it.

But, while people care about their physical health, mental health remains ignored. The concept of keeping at the front our mental health and also of others in our daily lives is rare and not taken care of. Expressing mental health is a challenge and if someone gathers the courage to talk about it, he is termed weak and vulnerable in most cases.

Many factors are responsible for poor mental health or mental health disorders. These include social, economic, biological, environmental, in a broader sense.

But having said that, the impact of societal expectations, daily interactions, and set standards have a huge impact on an individual‘s mental health. And its negative impact encompasses all sections of society.

A student suffers from depression for getting fewer marks in exams and failing to get admission to a desired discipline or university. A married woman suffers from mental illness because of domestic violence which she tolerates just for the sake of saving her marriage and avoiding a ‘divorcee’ tag.

Unfortunately, we are living in a world where running after perfection and chasing dreams has taken the centre stage. And, if somehow someone tries to break this chain he is designated as a loser and is left behind. In all this materialism, people have forgotten that mental well-being and good mental health hold a key place in life. And, without peace of mind, all their achievements and success have no value.

A person suffers from depression for not having a home, not having a car, not earning enough, and not enjoying the privileges of life. A bulky person suffers from a mental disorder because of continuous bullying and body-shaming.

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It shows that a society that should have been progressive is regressive. And, mental health is not a priority. And a family that should have been a protective and encouraging force has given up on societal expectations and standards.

Both society and family should play a positive role in an individual’s life.

A society should be progressive with a healthy environment for everyone without setting high standards. A family should be an encouraging force in an individual’s life. It should leave aside all societal expectations, provide support and accept its members as they are, care about their mental health, and not put an extra burden on them.

A student who got fewer marks in exams should not be compelled to attempt suicide or pressurised enough to go into a state of depression, but rather be accepted and encouraged.

A person who cannot give his family a luxurious life but works hard to provide a standard life should be appreciated rather than pressured to do more. A woman who lives in an abusive marriage should have enough freedom to expose her perpetrator and her family should accept her decision irrespective of what society says.

Society should accept people as they are rather than disturbing their lives by setting high standards. The priority should be given to the mental health of individuals rather than making them vulnerable.

These are things that can be controlled and are manageable and everyone can play a role.

Peace of mind and good mental health will help individuals to do the work they love to the fullest of their capacity. It will help them perform routine activities in a better way. It will help in the creation of a progressive society.

Unfortunately, we are living in a world where running after perfection and chasing dreams has taken centrestage. And, if somehow someone tries to break this chain he is designated a loser and is left behind. In all this materialism, people have forgotten that mental well-being and good mental health hold a key place in life. And, without peace of mind, all their achievements and successes have no value.

As materialistic values and materialism have taken over human beings over the last couple of decades, the level of contentment has declined. And the greed to achieve more and more has destroyed peace of mind.

Society has set the same high standards for every individual. Those who achieve these standards are successful while those who fail to do so are unsuccessful.

All human beings are different. They all have different talents and capacities. By Judging every individual on the same standards, society has created an environment where mental well-being is compromised for unnecessary societal pressures.

With other factors, the most important reason for all this restlessness and confusion is that in all these materialistic standards we have forgotten that not everything is in the hands of individuals. What is in the hands of an individual is effort and hard work and after that everything should be left to the Almighty.

If that is kept in mind, then the one living in his house and the one in a rented house both will be happy and have contentment and peace of mind.

Every occupation will be worthy and every individual will be judged on his qualities and not on his status. It will help individuals to not surrender to societal pressures and live a life of their choice. Hence, a progressive and free society could be achieved.

This cannot happen in a single day. Every section of society should contribute to letting people think about their mental health and well-being and helping them leave aside all societal pressures and unreasonable standards.

Muhammad Ali Alvi
Muhammad Ali Alvi
The writer is freelance columnist

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