Health Ministry Draws Flak For Asking People Suffering From Depression to 'Eat Fruits' and 'Go For Walks'
'To cope with depression = Think Positive. By that logic, to get out of poverty = become rich.'
Image credits: @MoHFW_INDIA / Twitter
While mental health is slowly entering our drawing room conversation, it largely remains a topic of taboo in our society and the stigma attached to it stops people from seeking professional help.
So, when the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare decided to help citizens "cope with depression", we felt a change was coming.
However, it was an opportunity missed and the Health Ministry drew ire for treating the ailment with insensitivity.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare tweeted a poster in which it said, “Depression is a state of low mood that affects a person's thought, behaviour, feeling & sense of well-being. One must take up activities that keep him or her boosted in order to cope with depression. #SwasthaBharat #MentalHealth #LetsTalk”
The MoHFW, with its best intentions, decided to tweet several "tips to beat depression" which included the following:
>Follow a routine
> Be creative
> Take multi-vitamins
> Think positive
> Practice Yoga
> Stay clean
> Sleep for minimum 8 hours
> Eat fruits
> Go for walks
#Depression is a state of low mood that affects a person's thought, behaviour, feeling & sense of well-being. One must take up activities that keep him or her boosted in order to cope with depression. #SwasthaBharat #MentalHealth #LetsTalk pic.twitter.com/UJR3X7GwL2
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) June 26, 2018
Twitterati blamed the ministry for trivialising depression as a random mood swing or sadness. The tweet also failed to mention the most crucial treatment about depression -- getting clinical help or therapy.
Naturally, mental health professionals and others on the microblogging site very, very upset and wanted an "actual therapist" to intervene and advice the ministry.
"Please have mental health professionals create posters. I understand you want to help but you're only misguiding people. Mental health awareness is important and there are enough misconceptions as it is, without the MINISTRY OF HEALTH creating more of them," wrote one worried user.
"If you're asking me to think positively when the organ that CONTROLS MY EVERY THOUGHT AND EMOTION is incapable of doing so, you obviously don't understand what depression is at all," wrote another.
People with depression cant think positive. That's the definition of depression.
Telling them to do so, is like telling a person with cataract to open his eyes and see clearly.
Seeking help in depression, which is life saving, is not a part of this, why?
— Dhanvantari MindCare (@DMindcare) June 26, 2018
surprised they didn't suggest homeopathy. why doesn't the government consult actual mental health experts before putting out such stuff? https://t.co/DkdA7IFbtX
— Nishtha // David de Gea is my #1 (@RootKanal) June 26, 2018
— Roache Material (@gunsandroches) June 26, 2018
Depression is a real illness,treatable and may sometimes lead to suicide if not treated. It's not a character flaw or something you can just ask the patient to snap out of or make her or him guilty of suffering from. https://t.co/fHySQXTbEW
— Sudhir kothari (@sudhir_kothari) June 26, 2018
When the popular narrative forces you to talk about mental health on official social media, but you cannot be bothered to learn even the definition of depression.
Normalising or trivialising? https://t.co/zBdrko9B9c
— Kritika Narula (@Kritika_n_books) June 26, 2018
This, however, isn't the first time the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has waded into a Twitter controversy.
Back in April, the official handle shared a stock photograph that seemed to indicate that a vegetarian diet is the only way to be healthy. The image showed a curvy woman's body with "unhealthy" non-vegeterian food. While the leaner woman's body was filled with plants and vegetables. After facing backlash, the tweet was deleted.
Egg is unhealthy?!
Now that we are done rewriting history, let's rewrite science. pic.twitter.com/EQxVOOX72K
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) April 23, 2018
According to World Health Organization, depression is a common illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that one normally enjoys, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
In addition, there may be a loss of energy, a change in appetite, our sleeping patterns may get affected, there'd be restlessness, indecisiveness, hopelessness, guilt, and even thoughts of self-harm plague the mind.
According to the WHO website, a 2015-16 study reveals that nearly 15% of Indian adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression.
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