A Spir­i­tual Ap­proach To Men­tal Health

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - An Ecstasy Of Ideas - Pulkit Sharma

As­ta­tis­ti­cal re­port pub­lished by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion re­cently, de­clared In­dia as the most de­pressed coun­try in the world along with a sharp rise in the cases of sui­cide, anx­i­ety, ad­dic­tions and many other psy­cho­log­i­cal disor­ders. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Men­tal Health Sur­vey of In­dia, 2015-16, around 15% In­di­ans suf­fer from chronic men­tal health prob­lems and des­per­ately need pro­fes­sional help to re­claim their lives.

At present, In­dia does not have suf­fi­cient bud­get for men­tal health; there is an acute short­age of well-trained clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists and psy­chi­a­trists and a paucity of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres. But we do have a rich spir­i­tual her­itage which can help us over­come this men­tal health cri­sis.

Men­tal illness pushes peo­ple into fear, gloom, iso­la­tion and noth­ing­ness break­ing down their spirit, de­stroy­ing their faith and snatch­ing away from them the courage to bounce back. Life is hard be­cause they are try­ing to solve too many prob­lems all alone.

But spir­i­tu­al­ity can com­pletely turn around and trans­form their di­lap­i­dated psy­chic state – re­unify them with their soul, in­fuse hope, give a new mean­ing to their life and make them once again be­lieve in the power of the uni­verse. The mo­ment they re­con­nect to their soul, they find an un­fail­ing part­ner and have ac­cess to divine knowl­edge, vi­sion and power. The self merged with its Source then trans­forms into a wise, pow­er­ful and joy­ful en­tity which can nav­i­gate all prob­lems smoothly.

No won­der, many spir­i­tual and re­li­gious texts af­firm the hid­den grace in­her­ent in men­tal and emo­tional suf­fer­ing. The Jaina Su­tras in­struct us that when­ever mis­for­tune comes our way and we are in deep pain, we must bear the emo­tional tur­moil with a cheer­ful at­ti­tude. Sri Guru Granth Sahib fur­ther tells us to con­sider plea­sure a dis­ease and en­dure pain as medicine be­cause it is only a painful heart which can pine for the Divine, in­ces­santly. The Bi­ble also reaf­firms that the only way to move closer to the glory God has promised us is through find­ing hope in our suf­fer­ing and keep­ing faith that tribu­la­tions make us per­se­ver­ant.

Many who suf­fered men­tal illness and ul­ti­mately found sanc­tu­ary in spir­i­tu­al­ity have told me that there was a ce­les­tial plan be­hind the dif­fi­cul­ties that had en­gulfed their life. The over­whelm­ing neg­a­tiv­ity and pain made them turn to the Divine for sal­va­tion and had the blows been milder, per­haps they would have con­tin­ued to lead a rou­tine, in­con­se­quen­tial life. As they pur­sued a spir­i­tual path, they re­alised that their illness was an ex­pres­sion of their soul’s search for whole­ness.

Con­se­quently, they stopped look­ing at it as an anom­aly and be­gan us­ing it as an op­por­tu­nity to be­come Self-aware, pu­ri­fy­ing and in­te­grat­ing all lay­ers of their self, med­i­tat­ing on Divine con­scious­ness and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion within.

Any­one suf­fer­ing men­tal illness can un­der­take the jour­ney from men­tal illness to spir­i­tual glory pro­vided we en­cour­age and guide the af­flicted per­son and cre­ate a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment. While in­no­va­tions in medicine and psy­chother­apy are vi­tal in treat­ing men­tal illness, equally im­por­tant is help­ing peo­ple re-es­tab­lish con­tact with their soul.

On world men­tal health day Oc­to­ber 10, 2019, let us think of ways in which we can mo­ti­vate the af­flicted ones to dis­cover the healer within. The writer is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in Puducherry.

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