1. What is some generic advice you would give readers about mental health — what do you wish for people (to know) across the board?
The first thing would be acceptance: A lot of people with emotional difficulties end up suffering because they are in denial. For example, a person with depression may continue to believe that they are feeling tired and having sleep difficulties because of physical health problems and refuse to accept that these may be symptoms of depression. As a result, they may delay getting the right help and carry the risk of their condition worsening.
Another would be to get some help if required: I often tell my patients that just the way they would consult a physician if they were having physical health problems, they ought to get help from a mental health professional.
Lastly, we should all talk about mental health openly: Openness will lead to de-stigmatisation.
2. Does it help to think of mental health as a continuum — apart from specific conditions and diagnoses… And increasingly I’ve been hearing from people who fear they were mis-diagnosed or that they are much more than their condition or label — what should friends and family keep in mind?
I agree about considering mental health conditions along a continuum. For instance depression may be mild, moderate or severe.
OR someone may not meet diagnostic criteria for depression but still may show some symptoms.
It is important to recognise what the person is feeling and to treat it accordingly. Friends and family should essentially focus on the support the individual requires and offer that in a consistent and supportive way.
3. Mental Health in the Workplace is a huge over-arching theme (this year for World Mental Health Day). From your practice over the past few decades, can you shortlist some common issues that come up, that are work-related?
Work pressure, interpersonal dynamics at the workplace can contribute to high stress, competitiveness, mismatch between skills and job profile to name a few.
Views expressed are Personal. Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for professional mental health advice from a trained professional.