Actor Sandeep Nahar, known for his supporting roles in Bollywood films like 'M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story' and 'Kesari', took away his life after penning down a long heartbreaking post on Facebook citing problems in his professional and personal life. His sudden death started a social media discussion on why it is important to address ‘male issues as well as they are human beings too'.
Opoyi spoke to some of the leading doctors who spoke about the importance of focusing on mental health awareness for men just like women.
“ Indian culture has had an uneasy relationship with the concept of vulnerability and one part of vulnerability means you are going to feel certain disturbing emotions and it’s a fact which just needs to be addressed instead of hiding away from it. Men as a gender have probably suffered the aftermath of this uneasy relationship.
"Also, what definitely exists in our culture is the expectation that men should show strength which is considered the opposite of vulnerability, which is the wrong conception," Doctor Swati Khanolkar, leading mental health practitioner in Mumbai, told Opoyi.
She says that expressing your emotion and say that I am disturbed and I need help is "not a sign of weakness" .
"It's always looked at something which is hidden because it’s a sign of weakness and masculinity is compared with strengths... men are being stronger physically but that doesn’t mean they are stronger mentally so if we drop all of these false assumptions about men which are too generic and we start looking at expressing certain emotions as not a sign of weakness then that would be a great change.
“Men don’t need to exhibit strength at all times. It’s more societal construct than a fact. Most recent suicide cases of 2020, probably that caught media attention, there are quite a few men," she added.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of India launched the 24x7 Kiran helpline in September 2021 for mental health and as per the internal report published by the ministry, 70 percent of the calls received by the helpline were from men.
According to doctor Anuneet Sabharwal, MBBS, MD (Psychiatry) and Founder and Director of The Happy Tree Deaddiction And Mental Health Hospital, “when it comes to suicide, one would be surprised to know that suicide completion rate, which means the percentage of people who attempt and complete suicide is twice at high in men as it is in women even though the level of reported suicidal thoughts are high in women.”
“One of the possible reason is men really don’t talk about their feelings and express their feelings and they take actions. Even states also say that men are likely to take more lethal ways to commit suicide than women so that’s a huge giveaway on how society presses men to be ‘manly’ and not to talk about mental health issues because it’s seen as a sign of men talking about being vulnerable or feeling vulnerable,” Sabharwal told Opoyi.
He also says that the only solution to men coming out and talking about is when we not only start at the individual level but also in society.
“We can start talking about it at an individual level but once popular culture starts to normalize mental health issues only then we will be able to encourage men to talk more. It should be as normal to talk about depression as it is talking about heart disease or diabetes,” he said.
Nahar also cited his troubled marital relationship with wife as a reason to take the drastic step.
According to Seema Midha, a relationship expert, pandemic and subsequent lockdown is also one of the reasons for mental health issues seeing the drastic peak.
“People used to step out for office and used to meet family after coming back in evening with full excitement and zeal but now in the time when work from home is frequent, there is no space left for couples and there is no freedom too.
"Also, it is seen that people get attracted to negatives too fast. We need to understand that nobody in this world is perfect so if the partners are poles apart, we need to accept that move on. Channelize your energy in something good and positive,” she told Opoyi.