• 29 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    How Media is responsible for Propagating Or Controlling Stigma On Mental Health?

    media role in mental health awareness

    “You know last day there was a serial coming up which had an autistic child in it. Oh my God! How she was making strange and grotesque faces. It just scared me. I can’t even imagine one like the person in front of me. Everyone in the house were frustrated with her. They were scolding and pushing her aside, but she would not control, but aggressively approached everyone only to hit them.”

    This is a common picture given by most of our entertainment media (whether it is a film or a serial) about someone with mental challenge. Whatever the problem may be, he or she is made to appear helpless in plight and aggressive and abnormal is behaviour and expressions.

    A person with mental health issues must have distorted unclear speech, must shout beyond the normal decibel levels, should hit everyone or attack in some way or the other, harm normal existence etc.

    Such portrayals are dangerous; instead of creating an awareness about the mental challenge, such an image propagates further stigma on mental health irregularities.

    Hence, whenever counselling is spoken about in society, generally people associate it with madness.

    We consciously prefer to stay away from people suffering from difficult mental setups.

    We are scared that they can harm us.

    Even if our friend speaks about depression, or anxiety and considers its treatment, we prefer to exclude our self from the discussion, and if possible avoid that friend completely, thinking he or she is mad. This is harmful for us as well as our society. Our attitude leaves the needy friend alone to suffer with his/her state of confusion.

    Even the treatment and counselling costs are expressed such via media, as if they are too expensive and unattainable by normal people which is not true. So ultimately, counselling can either be the whim of a rich brat, or required by the mad, as per societal portrayal.

    Since we are engrossed in our stigma, we are incapable of viewing the truth about mental health and its problems.

    As a result, we lose approximately 3000 people every year, to suicide, because they were suffering from typical mental pain but could not address it or opt for cure, because the society stigmatizes and mocks a person with mental health conflicts.

    It is high time, that the media realizes their responsibility, and behave in a mature way towards a sensitive issue like mental health.

    Media is a powerful source of developing public opinions be it on political, social and economic issues or health related problems. The media should be unbiased while discussing facts on mental ailments of people.

    Media can be news, entertainment or social platform, and form and mode of information sharing are also different, hence filmmakers should stop showing a person with mental roadblocks, as helpless or harmful. They are neither of the two.

    Framing is defined as the means by which media information is organized, presented and interpreted.

    The frequently negative frames used by the media to portray mental illnesses contribute to the development and persistence of the public's negative attitudes toward persons with mental illnesses. 

    It would be much better if we could bring up examples from #History or #CelebrityDiaries to glorify the special abilities of specially-abled individuals.

    For e.g. it would be so much better, if we could refer to Beethoven, who has been fighting with bipolar disorder, yet never abstained from making great music, or Deepika Padukone and J.K. Rowling who are great names on the planet today, and each of them has had their share of depressing moments, while addressing mental health and wellness.

    There should be more movies like #Barfi and #TaareZameenPar which excavate the extra capabilities of a person with shortcomings, his or her ability to add humour to life and life to the earth, rather than constraining their abilities on screen, by showing them helpless, frustrated, and an ill element to life.

    The role of media should be reformative, not restorative, as long as stigma on mental health issues are concerned.


  • 28 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    How to deal with unsolicited criticism?

    unsolicited criticism



    “Hi Rebecca, how are you today? Doesn’t seem too good, because you have such unmatched clothes on you. Look at the terrible hat, this is just not what proper people wear.

    Last day I was reading the test article that you had submitted for the school magazine. Well I felt it was just OK, the content had nothing exceptional to impart great knowledge to us. Just an ordinary article, I don’t think it will get selected for the publication”.

    This is the general picture in our regular lives. We meet several people who very conveniently start their criticism on us, despite the fact that they are not invited. This is what we call unsolicited criticism. I do not know, if this kind of character assassination is prohibited by law, but if someone speaks harsh of you, without any validation, it generally angers you, upsets you, at times demotivates you, in other words, affect your fair mental health adversely.

    Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna’, but you should not let yourself be pulled back by these severely attacking words from others.

    1. Do not let negative criticisms stop you- People will criticize, it is their job. Most of the times, the criticisms are not valid, they come as comments, without any suggestion for rectification. Even if they are true, realize that they are good. Such comments on your work can help you improve your quality of work. Do not get demotivated with negative comments, that is the first suggestion. The fact that people are not appreciating your hard efforts is disheartening, but don’t let this feeling of despair, overpower your free will of doing something better.


    1. Do not objectify your relatives and friends as the significant other- Mostly we receive criticism from those who are a part of our daily lives, with whom we meet often, may be they are our friends or our close acquaintances, that is the reason, they put out their so called ‘honest comments’ without hesitation, thinking they are doing so to benefit us. But when they speak negatively about our performance, we tend to avoid them, ‘why can’t you keep shut! Did I ask for your opinion!’, this is what goes on in our mind. We need to realize that they are not the ‘other’ or the opponent. Objectification of our critique as someone of the hostile group, can infuse further negativity within us. That can affect the interpersonal relations, which is not good. We should consider them as our fellow mates and try to rethink about the cause of their criticism.


    1. Accept that you can have fault- Negative uninvited criticisms are not always bad. They can make us aware of our mistakes. Rather than getting angry or upset on the person, it will be better, if you recheck your work. We all make mistakes, we all have follies, there is nothing wrong in that. But it is important to rectify them. So take the criticisms positively, and consider the comments to make your performance better.


    1. Be compassionate towards others- Why are your friends criticizing you? Try to understand what’s in their mind. They may be critiquing you out of helplessness. May be they are suffering from some kind of insufficiency within themselves, for which they are depressed, so they are trying to find faults in you. Rather than being vexed, try to be more compassionate when you are speaking with someone.


    1. Do not avoid social interactions in fear of criticism- Sometimes, when we are not appreciated, we feel low, hurt at self-respect, and we avoid talking to people in fear of getting criticized. That is not correct. This signifies anxiety, it means you are purposely ignoring others because you do not want to face the truth. This can lead to obsessive compulsive disorder or narcissism. Face the criticism, you will keep making mistakes till you learn it properly, and that is the truth. Avoidance will only keep the ignorance alive.


    1. No one is perfect- You are not Mr. Perfect by birth. But we have to strive towards achieving the perfection. Open criticisms can hurt you, especially when you do not ask for the opinion, and it comes as a blow, but that’s the way life is. Learn from your follies. You do not have to consider each and every comment that others make about you, but do not suffer from the misconception that you cannot be wrong.


    Once you learn to follow these significant rules of conduct, unsolicited criticisms will never impact you again in a negative way. You can consciously deal with them, while keeping yourself upright and happy. 

    Image source


  • 26 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    Get Slim And Trim Belly With Dispositional Mindfulness

    despositional mindfulness

    Last day I was watching a movie #SizeZero which was celebrating fit and fine curvaceous body as opposed to skeletal structure of a size zero model. Fat is fit was the mantra. It is true; there is no point in damaging your health for becoming slim. However, if your weight and curves get overdone, that can lead to obesity, which can be the cause of serious problems like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, cholesterol disorder etc.

    What we eat is not the cause of our fat belly, the way we eat is important.

    Taking a thoughtful diet full of all the required nutrients will always keep you in the best of your health.

    Taking periodic meals is a useful mechanism to keep your weight in control and reduce over intake of calories.

    Recent research has found out, that only giving a thought to the diet plan may not work. A more effective mechanism has been discovered which they call ‘dispositional mindfulness

    Dispositional mindfulness is different from our general knowledge about mindfulness practice, which is a kind of meditation to concentrate on present and physical sensations.

    It is more of a regular awareness of the present occurring, activities, physical sensations and emotional thoughts. This is kind of an inherent nature in a person, which never looks into the past or future but sub consciously focuses on the present. However, this can be preached and practised as well.

    If we apply the dispositional mindfulness to selecting our food items, possibly we can reduce a huge amount of bad calorie and unhealthy carb from our diet.

    Let’s look at how dispositional mindfulness is linked to lower fat in the body.

    Eric Loucks’ study, published in the International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, looked at how 394 people in the New England Family Study (NEFS) scored on the six-point Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). 

    The researchers also measured the amount of belly and hip fat each person had using the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scanner at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket. They also gathered measurements of body mass index and other data on each participant’s health, lifestyle, and demographics.

    The results showed that people with a score less than 4 on the MAAS scale were 34% more prone towards obesity and developing extra belly fat, than those who scored 6 and above. Both of these results were statistically significant.

    In short, a person who is generally mindful as opposed to those practising it within a period of meditation, tend to be more thoughtful about their present actions, and will dissuade from impulsive snacking.


    How to practise it?

    Start with small steps- Try being mindful for a day’s snack. Choose wisely on what you want to eat. Slowly you can extend it to breakfast, lunch and dinner diet.

    Focus on fruits and vegetables with colour red, orange and yellow-when you choose colourful objects in your diet, your senses will focus on it, and you will be more aware and conscious towards the experience of eating. Moreover, red fruits and vegetables are rich in anthocyanins, the largest source of antioxidants, while orange is more of carotenoid compounds that is good for eyes and brain. β-cryptoxanthin is a part of yellow fruits and veggies which are anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antihistamine hence will help you to fight serious diseases. In short, these useful nutrient compounds will cut down your belly fat and add to your health.

    Focus on the calorie intake- while assessing your health, pay attention to the amount of calorie intake each day. Find out which food item contain how much calorie, and consume accordingly. In this way you can shift your focus from long term worries to your food, and that will positively add to your good health.

    Think about why you are eating- when you go up to take some food, think or ask your body why you are eating? Are you eating because you are hungry? Or because you are bored or tired? Or because there is something tasty in the kitchen? This will interrupt your craving for the moment and once you answer the question, you can be mindful towards stopping the action.

    Enjoy the experience of eating- smell the aroma before eating, choose your favourite colour and relish every bite. This will help in better digestion, as saliva will be generated easily, hence belly fat can be regulated.

    Pay attention to your physical sensations after eating- after a particular diet, you can focus on the physical alarms. Are you feeling light, heavy, happy, or stressed? If you feel heavy and difficult to move after intake of food, it means you have taken the wrong diet or in wrong quantity. Avoid your mistake from the next time.

    Do one thing at a time- do not eat while reading, watching TV or doing other activities. Eat when you are eating. Mindful eating will help you regulate the amount of food intake and will also enrich the experience of eating.

    Image source


  • 25 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    10 Interesting facts on anxiety

    anxiety fact

    Anxiety is one of the significant mental health issues that commonly affect human beings. Different people have different reasons for anxiety. Sometimes too much rush; not being on time can be the reason for anxiety, sometimes a subject of study like maths can be the cause of anxiety, or sometimes just the question ‘what if’. We have discussed about the cause and cure of anxiety earlier. Now we present to you some interesting facts on anxiety which you should know-

    • Anxiety means physical sickness beyond mental stress- anxiety causes physical ailments beyond stressful thoughts and brain storming. We know that amygdala is responsible for out flight response mechanism, but when the brain senses terror, real or imaginary, it generates stress hormones in the body- adrenaline and noradrenaline, which can cause chest pain, headache, nausea and fatigue.


    • Anxiety can be genetical- anxiety can be inherited by a child from his parents with inheritence of α-endomannosidase gene which is responsible for stress and anxiety disorders.


    • Exercise reduces anxiety- a regular pattern of healthy exercise can keep you stress free. Physical activity keeps you more focused on bodily sensations, hence the provoking thoughts come and disappear easily.


    • Anxiety confuses the sense of smell- People with anxiety show a greater tendency to label neutral smells as bad smells. Typically, when processing smells it’s only the olfactory (smelling) system that gets activated. When a person becomes anxious the emotional system becomes intertwined with the olfactory processing system.


    • Exposure to anti-depressants during pregnancy can affect adult anxiety- if a mother is treated with anti-depressants during pregnancy, the child, after growing up can be automatically more resilient to anxiety.


    • Anxiety becomes the most common form of mental health problem in the United States. It’s estimated that approximately 10 percent of teenagers and 40 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind. The number crosses depression rates.


    • Statistically, women are more commonly afflicted by anxiety disorders than men.


    • If you are with social anxiety, people will actually think you are fabulous- often people with social anxiety feel they are less confident but research has found that because of over thinking and over sensitivity, when they speak, the words are well constructed and meaningful, which leave a deeper impression on others.


    • Anxiety is closely related to OCD- Obsessive compulsive disorder is a kind of anxiety, where we behave like maniacs with the worry to ensure that a particular thing has been done. For e.g. to check that lights in the house have been switched off, we constantly go back to the same rooms and look on the switch board, sometimes, even on it and off it again to ensure. This kind of reaction is also panic mechanism.


    • A healthy diet can reduce anxiety- American Journal of Psychiatry found that people having a diet of fruits, vegetable, fish and meat tend to be less anxious that those influenced by western diet of fried food, burgers, pizza.

    Image source

  • 25 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    If You Are Feeling Rushed With Anxiety, Speak Out Your Thoughts Loud To Alleviate Them.


    Often we are in a hurry if we have to accomplish a task within a prescribed deadline. We start rushing with things that there is not much time. We start perspiring, sometimes shivering with tension. Some of us has the habit of biting nails when they are nervous about completing a task. This is not normal, this is anxiety. The sense of being ‘rushed’ in a situation is due to anxious thoughts.

    So what can we do to immediately avert this thought of anxiety which is not good for health?

    We need to talk it out loud. If you are feeling rushed, shout and admit it to yourself that ‘I am feeling rushed’.

    It is scientifically proven that if you speak out your feelings and emotions the thought actually keeps reducing in intensity.

    “Matthew Lieberman at UCLA, in a research shows that when we name an emotion we actually diminish activity the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system, which is the part of the brain thought to be largely responsible for feelings of anxiety and other stress-related emotions.”

    Better to speak with yourself on the anxious feeling rather than be in the thinking. If we are lost in the thinking process about ‘what can happen’, ‘what I have to complete’ and ‘what all task is pending’, it aggravates the anxiety within us, with no solution.

    The more we try to consciously avoid anxiety, more we are driven towards it. Consoling yourself with the thought that ‘almost everything is complete, but there is not much time’, only makes you more nervous about the timeline. But when you speak to yourself with your inner voice ‘yes I am nervous’, being in thought is no longer there, so anxiety and tension is much diminished.

    Make your steps towards the goal purposely faster. If you are running short of time, try to focus on the game of moving and doing things fast. Walk faster, move faster, do faster not because you have to reach the goal, but because you want to do it, you want to move faster to test yourself. This can alleviate the nervousness in your brain.

    Also feel the sensations while doing the work. If you are walking, feel the motion of your footsteps, feel the breeze on your face, if you are typing, notice how your fingers are falling on the keys, this kind of intentional brain activity, can take your mind off the thought, ‘I have to rush, I have no time’. This is kind of a stress reliever.

    Bring all the efforts together, when you want to stop being anxious for being in a hurry.

    Talking the emotion is helpful, it reduces the thought by bringing the feeling into action. When we talk it out, we automatically find a solution to the situation by making our activities faster for the sake of doing fast. When we concentrate on the sensations while we work, our focus shifts from the anxious thought to a more conformed, fruitful procedure, which is, actually hurrying up, not thinking.