Puneet connected with the idea of YourDOST because of not so great experience at his undergrad college, NIT Calicut. Despite being a college gold medalist, he found it difficult to crack placement interviews and did not have any job offer till about 2 months from the start of placement at campus. Staying away from the family (which belongs to Kanpur), made it even more difficult for him to gather support during this tough phase. Though he was able to compose himself and back one of the best offers from campus later on, the hard journey made him realise the importance of a support system esp when you are away from your family. This is what made him start YourDOST with Richa.
According to the WHO, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to their community. Good mental health is essential to our ability to think, feel and express emotions, interact with others, work and enjoy life.
The important thing to note here is that this applies to all humans, women and men. However, the matter of men’s mental health and well-being is awash in myths and misconceptions, myths like – men don’t get emotional, men don’t face mental health issues, men don’t need professional help, etc.
The fact is that these myths are absolutely wrong, portraying men to be something other than human. This stigma keeps a lot of men from opening up about these issues, forcing them to suffer in silence. This is tremendously detrimental to their functioning and to society. Consider this, as per the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau, India lost over 1.5 lakh lives to suicide. 71% of these victims were men. Clearly, these toxic myths around men’s mental health and well-being are in an urgent need of busting. Thus, interventions must be provided by our corporates and educational institutions at 3 levels:
- Individual Level
We must empower men with the right knowledge and resources to take care of themselves. This includes training in Psychological First-Aid which would equip them to notice signs of distress not only within themselves but others too, as well as to take the correct next steps to remedy this distress.
They must also be provided with resources for non-judgmental and confidential professional guidance from psychologists and coaches, assessment tools to help them understand themselves better, and self-help modules and training to develop skills to take care of themselves, face adversities with greater resilience and also provide support to those around them.
- Community Level
We must facilitate training and programs for organisations’ leaders, managers, employees, staff members, students, etc. to help create and execute a peer support framework, and a supportive and caring community culture which is devoid of stigma, judgement and prejudice.
- Organisational Level
Organisations’ leadership must proactively work to understand and fill the gaps at an overall organisational level for building an empathetic and high-performing culture.
Once our institutions start to engage in these interventions, we’re bound to see a consequent increase in openness in our society about men’s mental health and wellbeing