Content Creator: Krithika P V
Content Editor: Ayisha Farah
Blog Designer: Nirvan Bajracharya
The latest trend of mental health awareness has been majorly focused on the teenage and young adult population present on the internet. We have seen various stories online on youth depression due to a lack of understanding between them and their parents. But, have you ever come across a story of a parent reporting deteriorating mental health due to all the challenges and struggles they face daily? The most common answer would be no.
Our parents have been placed on a pedestal by society as the strongest and the most righteous beings on earth who can endure all pain with a smile and do not open up about their struggles. But, when will we ever realize that they are just as human as we are?
Parenting is one of the toughest as well as underrated jobs in the world. No matter how prepared a parent is for the coming of their child, the experience, in reality, is always far from their theory classes. While this job might be tiring yet heart-warming to most parents, some are adversely affected by it. Parenting can highly take a toll on someone's mental health and result in serious issues.
Parental mental health issues are as real as anything. They have persisted in society since time immemorial, but have been identified as an issue only lately. Nonetheless, they have been and continue to be ignored all the while in the name of “stress”, “overburden”, or “just a phase that would get over in time”.
The generation of our parents still cannot familiarize themselves with the concept of how important mental health is.
There can be innumerable reasons as to why a parent might suffer from mental health issues. Some might have had mental health issues before being parents that might carry on into their parenthood. Some might have developed relationship issues or post-marriage family issues that might've harmed their mental health. Some parents might've been mentally weakened by the financial crisis and family maintenance. Some might've been going through divorces or might've even lost their partners and might be in grief. The reasons can go on and on, but we need to focus here on acceptance and finding a solution to the issue.
A serious yet ignored cause of mental health issues in parents is lack of communication. Parents find it hard to communicate such serious problems with their children either because they are young and might not understand or because they would be let down in their kid's eyes.
The generation gap has a significant role to play too. The generation of our parents still cannot familiarize themselves with the concept of how important mental health is. They still tend to find it absurd and unimportant. Therefore, they ignore seeking help until it builds up, and this has a vast reverse reaction upon them. A small amount of pride and the reluctance to believe that they are mentally ill also adds to the causes.
A parent's mental health issue can have adverse effects on their kids as well. While some effects might be minor and ignorable, some might go up to the extent of severe physical harm. As society's experience says, a child follows their parents' footsteps and grows up to represent their teachings. But for children whose parents themselves are suffering helplessly, growth can be altered or hindered.
Mood swings and behavioural changes in parents can cause a sense of fear, rage, sorrow, or even hatred in their children's minds. As mental health issues persist and build-up for the long term if not paid attention to, children may also develop signs of deteriorating mental health conditions. In extreme cases, children might even be prone to be hurt by their parents and may be forced to stay away from them for long-term treatment. Therefore, avoiding negligence and seeking help at the early stage is necessary.
Even though we tend to deny it as much as possible, we humans live happily upon acceptance. This acceptance may be from elders, teachers, friends, or society as a whole. The level of acceptance of mental health patients receive is very limited. They are ignored, bullied, or tagged as 'insane' by most people. And when these patients happen to be parents, they choose not to address the issue so as not to fall low in their child's eyes. The need to lead a respected life stops them from being rejected by society in their child's presence.
After analyzing the meaning and causes of this issue, let's talk about the solutions. What can we, individually and as a society, do to address our parents' mental health issues?
The first and most straight-forward way is to talk. Talk to them. Let them know that you understand and stand by them irrespective of anything. Make them feel wanted and loved because love, sometimes, can be just the solution to everything. Once you've made them comfortable enough to talk, convince them to seek professional help. Take them to professional therapies and stand by them through all their stages of the issues without being a tad bit judgmental.
The above advice can work on an individual level. But as a society, what can we do? Societal changes take decades and sometimes centuries to happen because society is a mixture of a gazillion varying mindsets, attitudes, and lines of thought. Therefore, expecting an immediate change as a reaction to your efforts might seem unreal. However, you can always be the one to ignite this fire for change.
Start by the simplest of efforts. See to it that your loved ones are doing okay. Ask them about how they are doing and see to it that they get comfortable talking to you. Be there for them in crisis times and shower them with as much love and kindness as possible. Educate your circle and then your surrounding society about the importance of mental health and the need to normalize it. Your words don't need to move them, but your efforts will count nonetheless.
If we, the youth, expect our parents to understand, help, and support us in every turn of life, we must give that much in return as well. As the saying goes, you need two hands to form a clap and contribute and understand from both sides to make something work.