Unhealthy minds


Recently, an international study showed that the time a child spends in front of television, playing with mobiles and laptop affects his/her mental ability. According to research conducted at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, young people who invest more time on social media platforms will inevitably face issues in sleeping and are more likely to show symptoms of depression. In fact the most dangerous effect of increasing social media exposure is decrease in social activities of children and young people. With increasing urbanization, we are living in a set-up where children have no spaces for playing, mixing up with people. Even in schools, playing has been relegated to a ritual. We can say that the definition of humans being as social animal is under challenge now. Internet and more particularly social media is definitely the greatest contributor to changes in socio-cultural values. Amid social media onslaught, significance of meeting, talking, debating, discussing and learning has been relegated to a minimum. Our being what we are as a human race is rooted in our being social. And once that ceases, we become something else. Today with changing socio-cultural norms including nuclear and urbanized families, children are faced with a new concern – the working both parents, a scenario in which children are left with no option but to spend time indoors, with gadgets. This lack of play spaces and playing culture is taking toll on young generation, with their minds developing in ways that was not the case till recent. The need is for us to correct this urgently. We are aware that doctors have been stressing time and again that schools need to incorporate development model for elementary years. Researches have proven that schooling, even if started later, yields same learning outcomes as starting school after age of six, for instance. We need to make children learn in playful manner, in creches, play schools and formal schools. Unfortunately today a creche is more and more becoming preparatory schools. And the stress it puts on minds of children is tremendous and could be detrimental to healthy brain development. Another concern is the growing population of orphans in the society over the years. Traditionally, an orphan used to be taken care of by relatives but now they are shifted to orphanages which have mushroomed across the State where, according to doctors, these orphans are often not in best of health, physically and mentally. How one wishes for that system to come back where an orphan would live with uncles and grandparents? Our culture has been so vocal about taking care of orphans, but alas that is disappearing. On the other hand suicides have become a reality in our society as much as in other parts of world. Recognized as serious mental health problem, suicide ranks as 9th leading causes of death in developed world. On official data we have a low suicide rates, but it cannot be denied that over the last few years there has been spurt in suicides, attempts to suicides and deliberate self harm, although most of them have gone unreported and kept hidden within the family. But the situation warrants public health measures to bring down mortality because of suicide. And better understanding of risk factors and magnitude of effect of known risk factors among general population is crucial to design measures about suicide prevention programmes. Indeed as per all indication it is evident that there is huge mental health morbidity in our State. Sure majority of people in our conflict ridden society are coping and resilient, but it cannot be denied that there are a large number of people having mental illness. And while affected people could be of any age group, young minds are the most vulnerable and suffer consequences of violence and fluid family structures the most. Today, when organizations across the world are focusing on the theme “Young People & Mental Health in a Changing World” on International Mental Health Day (October 10), it is obvious that young minds in our State are on a precipice.