If we assume Kashmir as a living body, it has got many dimensions with respect to quantum of health. It’s very ardent to describe the mental dimension of this part of the world. The mental health of Kashmir means the overall prevalence of psychological, emotional and spiritual health of Kashmir. For a common Kashmiri, emotional health means that every single person should outcry one's emotions; be able to speak their hearts out and to ventilate their feelings; express their concerns freely and more probably in an equitable fashion. When it comes to their psychological health, it should be free and peaceful as any other dimension of health. Their shouldn't be any external force limiting the expression of a psychological capability of any person. It should be free from stress and external threats.
Presently, the figures on mental health in Kashmir are very disturbing and are posing a serious threat to the existence of Kashmir valley. A recent survey conducted by MSF (Medicine Sans Frontiers) highlights the effect of stress on residents of Jammu Kashmir and the findings are alarming. As per the sampled report, over 18 lakh people in the state showed some signs of mental distress and depression; more than 4 lakh people suffer from severe depression; 41 percent of people in the Valley exhibit symptoms of depression; 26 percent show symptoms of anxiety and 19 percent show symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome .The potential causes that are contributing to this distress are many, some of the major causes are:
The status of conflict:
The rise of militancy in 1989 eventually trapped the valley in politics of grief; it altered the psyche of people. The sudden up rise in search operations and inadvertent cordons impacted the freeness of people, encapsulating their minds in constant fear.. The hecklings irk the consciousness of people and destabilize their minds. The unjustified thrashings turn the normal psychology into complex and the brain starts oscillating in agony. The alleged custodial killings have left a deep impact on the minds of people. The enforced disappearances continue to scare people. The rising encounters are deepening the further mental crises. Due to impending conflict, the people are suffering from post traumatic stress disorders with general occurrence of personality disorders, stress and depression.
With the conflict status and the dismantled political and beaurocratic onslaught, the administration has been in deep shambles. The influence of conflict on education sector, continuous shutdowns and prolonged closure of educational institutions further aggravate the cause. There is a general consensus among people of Kashmir that hard work is hardly paid; the materialistic influence is given prime importance. Countless youths are jobless, left with nothing to do. The informal sector has mild prevalence in Kashmir. This has lead to the chaos in the minds of youth. And has aggravated bipolar psychotic disorders like depression, anxiety, stress and behavioral disorders.
Negative impact of social media:
While European world endeavored to social media to absorb positive side and take the lead in world, the Asian countries stickled to negative side. The people and especially youth of Kashmir are grossly addicted to social media. They are receding away from their social fabric, employing most of their time using social networking sites. This has lead to disorientation and confusion; both are the precursors to degrading mental health.
Social stigma towards mental health illness:
Unawareness is a problem with mental agony in Kashmir. The people aren't yet convinced about mental health problems and are not accepting it as a mental pathology. People prefer to ignore when mental plague hits them. The girls in the marriageable age are caught in this imbroglio. Some people turn to spiritual healers when they are in stress. Unfortunately, these fake healers drain their wealth and use some obnoxious tricks to take them for a ride. There are numerous incidents where these so called fake healers were caught molesting and abusing innocent girls.
Shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists:
This shortage of professionals further deepens the roots of this problem. With only few professionals, it is imperatively impossible to challenge such a grave problem. The causes and risk factors are many, but what are the available options to halt this impending disaster?
The concerned authorities must take immediate steps to counter the alarming rise of mental issues before it becomes too late to recover. Onus should not be left with treating the signs and symptoms only, rather than eradicating the actual causes. We as a society can do so by encouraging healthy practices and ensuring safe environment.