Oct 10, 2019 is the World Mental Health Day! Ipsos, a global market research company, conducted an interesting global survey to map attitudes to mental health.
Interestingly, majority of Indians polled are preoccupied about their physical wellbeing (75%), over mental wellbeing (62%). Though, 64% Indians believe that is equally important to have both, physical and mental health.
"Indians are recognising that being healthy and well is a combination of both, physical and mental wellbeing and both work in tandem. Also mental health issues are like any other illness and it is alright to see a doctor for alleviating symptoms,"says Monica Gangwani, Executive Director & Country Service Line Leader, Healthcare, Ipsos India.
How are mental health and physical health conditions perceived in India?
Views were seen to be divided: While 45% Indians believe that both mental and physical health get equal footing in India, 30% believe physical health gets more emphasis over mental health, 17% believe mental health is given preference over physical health; 7% were undecided and 1% declined.
Stigma needs to go!
Indians want a clear shift in the handling and perception of mental illness: 64% Indians feel that mental illness is like any other illness (16% disagreed, 16% were neutral and 2% were undecided). Further, 74% Indians exhort adoption of a more tolerant attitude towards those with mental illness in the society.
The survey also shows a more positive and empathetic change coming about towards those with signs of mental health conditions – 64% urban Indians believe seeing a mental health specialist or therapist, as a sign of strength.
Views around mental health somewhat disjointed and devoid of clear consensus
About half of Indians polled (52%), disagree, increased spending on mental health services is a waste of money. 27% think it is a wasteful expenditure, while 17% were neutral, 3% were undecided and 1% refused.
39% Indians reject exclusion of someone from public office, on the grounds of mental health history. 32% agree on exclusion. 25% were neutral, 3% undecided and 1% refused.
Can mental illness heal on its own?
44% urban Indians firmly believe that most adults diagnosed with the mental health condition are likely to get better without the intervention of the doctor. 29% held a contrary view and disagreed. 21% were neutral (neither agreed nor disagreed), 5% were undecided and 1% refused.
Similarly, for children, at least 42% urban Indians believe that children diagnosed with mental health condition would get better in due course without the intervention of doctors. Though 31% seemed to disagree. 23% were neutral, 3% undecided and 1% refused to answer.
"Meditation and alternative therapies are known to aid in the healing process in case of mental trauma and distress," adds Gangwani.
The survey also explored areas that have a direct bearing on mental wellbeing. Like relaxation, physical exercise, being outdoors, quality sleep, work-life balance, finances, home, neighbourhood, bond with family and friends, eating and drinking habits, say in decision making, involvement in local activities etc.
Some of the top areas listed by Indians for mental wellbeing were: the level of involvement with local groups and activities, exercise, home, relationship with family and friends etc.
In total, 20,003 interviews were conducted between 23 August–6 September 2019. The survey was conducted in 30 countries around the world, via the Ipsos Online Panel system in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Great Britain, USA, Malaysia, Colombia, Chile, Israel, Peru and Serbia.
Approximately 1000 individuals aged 16+ were surveyed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Spain and the USA. Approximately 500 individuals aged were surveyed in the remaining countries.
Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be+-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.
Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.