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Time to scrutinise the impact of technology on mental health

Apeejay Stya University hosted a webinar in which experts spoke about how the pandemic-induced lockdown fuelled mental health concerns among individuals

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According to UNICEF, one in 7 Indian youth has suffered from depression amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the National Mental State Survey of India evaluated the prevalence of mental disorders within 18-29 year old youth at 7.39%, excluding tobacco use disorder. Anxiety, depression, suicide and substance abuse are the major challenges that the youth are facing today. 

To further discuss and brainstorm solutions to cope with the growing concerns on mental health issues, the Counselling Centre in association with School of Education, National Service Scheme, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan and Rotaract Club of Apeejay Stya University (ASU) recently organised a session on ‘Handling Anxiety and Depression Amongst Youth’.

The seminar was opened by Professor Vimala Veeraraghavan from the Centre of Liberal Arts and Dean Academics at Apeejay Stya University. Extending her gratitude to Mrs. Sushma Paul Berlia, Chancellor, Apeejay Stya University, Prof. Veeraraghavan said, “It was her dream of having a counselling centre in the university. Thanks to her and various other dignitaries at the Apeejay Foundation,  we were able to start the Liberal Arts Centre. This counselling centre is not just for clinical purposes but it’s also for taking care of many of our mental health concerns including feeling low, anxiety and behavioural changes. The pandemic-induced lockdown had created a monotony and most of us were glued to our laptops. It was a different life that we were forced to live. In fact, for two years, many of us struggled emotionally and physically. And these aggravated mental health challenges among individuals.”

Taking the webinar forward, the guest speaker, Dr. Deepak Raheja, Director and Chief Psychiatrist at Hope Care India, said, “There are many aspects of mental health that come to mind. First, an important point to note is that individuals suffering from mental health challenges are not customers or clients. When healers, counsellors and doctors start to treat patients like consumers, it’s not a very good sign for society. We call them ‘patients’ because the word ‘patient’ is deemed to be a very respectful word.”

Dr. Raheja, who is associated with the field of mental health for over a decade and uses eclectic healing approaches, combining the medical aspects with a rich experience in Hypnotherapy, Spiritual Counselling and alternative healing practices, says, “Today, the entire fabric including the social, cultural, emotional aspects of society has changed a lot. And the biggest transformation has been in the last two years ever since the onset of the pandemic. It has caused a big impact on the mental health of youngsters. The basic skills pertaining to interpersonal relationships, meeting with each other, calling friends over dinner, has begun to change. However, these were important elements of our life.”  

He further added, “We failed to realise that they played a huge role in the protective aspects of our mental health which we never noticed or gave any importance until the pandemic occurred. We now realise how important it is to be connected. The problem is we all have become hugely dependent on technology. Something that was meant to be subservient is almost emerging as a master. And this has led to cognitive disturbance which is prompting many of us to reach out to other means of gratifying the dissonance that goes through the mind.”

He also mentioned that these days, youngsters, instead of speaking their hearts out with a family member or close friend, choose an easy recourse that is smoking or drinking. 

Emphasising on the need to develop real-life connections to around 100 participants present during the webinar, Dr. Raheja stressed, “We may have many friends on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook but the idea is to create a support system in reality beyond technology. The best tool to deal with mental health challenges is to speak out and the listener must have the willingness to listen, coupled with empathy. ”  

The webinar ended with the concluding remarks from Dr. V.S. Garg, Education Advisor, Apeejay Education.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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