Depression has been a rising problem among youth in Nepal. Nepal has the second highest rate of disability adjusted life years caused by depression in the world. Nepal has About 10% of women suffer from postpartum depression. A fight against depression is what the present status-coue demands. Yet, a social stigma surrounding depression still exists. This social stigma keeps the victims from searching help. Especially youth students due to fear of teachers and parents don’t share their problem.
Awareness is the key
Nepal has a long way to go before it can be a depression free country and awareness is going to be a key factor in achieving the goal. Most Adults in Nepal today are not aware about depression or it’s symptoms. Rabin Kafle, a 22 year old Nepali student and a former depression victim says, “When I started to become depressed all the time, I went and talked to my mom about it and she said it was because I was thinking too much. None of my friends or my relatives were aware about the existence of Mental Health problems.“
The story however, takes a different turn in the youths of Nepal at present. Depression, anxiety, insomnia all are glorified in the captions and stories of the Nepali youth. Depression has become a tool for the youth to satisfy their hunger for attention on social media. The lack of awareness or the glorification of mental disease create a negative space for the actual victims. Depression is simply a curable disease and needs to be treated like one.
Reason behind the rise
School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how a teen feels. Sometimes, teen depression may result from environmental stress too. The Nepalese youths are pressured by parents and society due to grades, marriage or occupational choices. The stress combined with the “new age addiction” ie. social media, Nepalese youths are pushed into the dark hell of depression.
“The rising influence of social media, study pressure and pressure of relationship at young age are all cause depression. Students feel homesick when they start to live in Kathmandu away from their parents. Students have problems coping in their new life and without support from family and friends they too fall into depression.” said Rechana Ojha a student Counselor.
Often, kids with teen depression will have a noticeable change in their thinking and behavior. They may have no motivation and even become withdrawn, closing their bedroom door after school and staying in their room for hours. Kids with teen depression may sleep excessively, have a change in eating habits, and may even exhibit criminal behaviors such as DUI or shoplifting. Though the symptoms may be unseen to the common person, professional have tools to identify both the disease and its intensity.
The way out
Many youths are falling victim to depression but also many youth are fighting and winning it. Richa Shrestha a former depression victim shares her story as; “I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 18. I was an introvert and book lover. I didn’t go out much and loved the comfort of my home. After a bad break-up followed by a slip in my grades I fell victim to depression. It was only after sharing my problem with my best-friend and then my parents did I actually get my life back. I got professional help and counselling. Support from my parents and friends mixed up with a healthy diet and meditation got me out of the hell I was in.” Like Richa many have found the solutions to their depression.
21 year old Sampada Dahal remembers her struggle with depression since the age of 14. She says “Self-love and self care is the only way out of depression. A person should always remember not to harm themself or others. I personally don’t have much family support and I even have discontinued medicine. It was the creative activities that helped me stay calm and so everyone should explore themself and find what they love. I respect myself and you should too if you want to win over depression.”
“For all the young teenagers suffering from mental health issues help is available. You need to talk about it and deal with it. Like all disease, mental health is also a disease and needs to be treated. Don’t be afraid and seek help. Your life is worth living. Hundreds of people have been cured and so can you.” is the message from Rechana Ojha to the victims.
Seeking help is the right step for all patients.. A person who is suffering from depression needs to talk to their friends, relative and loved ones about their problems. The person also needs to search for professional help as psychiatrist are able to identify the mental illness. Teens also need to participate in youth-organization, meditation and physical activity as it helps to improve their mental health. People who are lonely and passive have more chances of getting mental health issues. Motivation of youths by parents and peers to get victims involved in activities and organization is excessively important as that increases the recovery process. “Medicine related to mental health issue is present in medical shop inside Kathmandu but are not provided without prescription” said Rechana Ojha Councilor at Global College of Management.
For easy accessibility to professional help, colleges need to employ counselors to help with mental issues. Teachers need to be provided with training about medical illness and parents need to be aware about the symptoms. As teens choose to hide about their health problems only with help from parents and teachers can progress be made.
Help in Kathmandu Valley is available in places like Center for Mental Health & Counseling -Nepal (Jeetjung Marg, Kathmandu 44600), TPO (Anek Marga, Kathmandu), Local Hospital and INGO’s. Rechana Ojha (Student Councillor) also active and has experience in student counseling for 5 years. Anyone with the need of help can find help.
By: Saugat pokharel