Yet another human being succumbed to depression yesterday. Mental health, depression, and unhappiness are the talk of the town. “He looked so happy, how could he be depressed?”, is the question people are left asking. People are saying to each other, “In case you feel depressed, please let me know! Remember me always!” Amidst all this talk, what is something that we can actually do, that might help someone in distress?

  1. Read up about mental health:
    A lot of misconceptions exist around mental health. What is anxiety? What is stress? What is depression? What does a psychiatrist do? What is therapy? The internet has a ton of resources on these topics and most of this information is freely available. We should definitely make use of this massive information accessible at our finger tips and keep ourselves informed. Surely, our friends studying psychology won’t mind us asking a few questions and getting our myths debunked?
  2. Reach out when we are not feeling well.
    This is okay to do! We are NOT supposed to have answers to every question in our crowded little heads. Life does have its fair share of ups and downs, but it is not okay to feel down all the time. Anytime we feel sad, lonely or simply not our best selves, we can reach out to our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, partners and literally anyone we trust. They are all there for us, and will definitely help us through our troubling times. If we feel a doctor’s intervention is required, it is absolutely okay to consult doctors about the same!
  3. Spread awareness about this topic.
    There is little awareness about mental health and well-being. Going to a psychiatrist is still taboo in most places. This has to change, and let us do everything we can to make sure our loved ones are well informed. Speak out when you feel this topic is being actively suppressed or in a subtle manner. One small action of yours will help tens of people to learn and apply this knowledge in their lives, so that they can help their loved ones.
  4. Make others feel comfortable about this topic.
    How do you react whenever somebody brings this topic? Do you get uncomfortable and try to change the topic? Or do you patiently listen and encourage others to do the same? Can you listen to your friend mentioning the same pain over and over again? These are difficult things to talk about, and joking or belittling such conversations in public will only make people more uncomfortable and turn them away from sharing their thoughts and feelings.
  5. Be there for others
    Ask the difficult question, “Are you okay?” Actually listen and empathise with them. It might be difficult for them to come out and say they are not okay. Notice the sudden silence or disinterest. Observe how they dropped out of the plan at the last minute. Being there for someone means listening, empathising, and lightening their burden if possible. That doesn’t always mean solving whatever problem he or she is facing. Sometimes, a shoulder to cry on, a calming presence itself is enough. In all of this, maintain the person’s confidentiality and privacy. If somebody entrusts us with their problems, it is upon us to ensure that we don’t betray their confidence and keep their words private.

Every individual is unique, and there is no one method of handling everyone’s depression. Let us arm ourselves with patience, empathy and understanding. Let us make this world a more supportive place, a place where we are able to share our thoughts and troubles. A place where we can ask for a shoulder to cry on. A place where asking for help isn’t looked down upon. A place with support structures in place, so that nobody feels that ending one’s life is the solution to all their problems.

Avid reader and amateur writer