It’s okay not to be okay

Years ago, when I was a civil servant, a young IPS officer was briefly posted under me for training. A sensitive guy, he was struggling with some mental health issues. Unfortunately, his anxiety got aggravated, resulting in a near breakdown.

A few days later, I happened to meet the Inspector General of Police (IGP). With a mocking smile, he said, ‘Seems like your IPS trainee has gone mad.’ All I could say was, ‘No, he is depressed, and is now on medication.’

This shocking insensitivity came from a leader of a 40,000-strong police force. Clearly, intellect does not preclude stupidity.

But I thought the IGP’s callousness reflected more on his own character and ignorance than on the young officer. In fact, such behavior is precisely what creates a stigma around mental health.

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In those days, our understanding of mental health issues was quite limited – most people assumed that it was a personality problem rather than a health issue.

Today, we understand that wealth, success, rank, and position have no bearing on mental health.

Madness is not the behavior of someone struggling with mental health; it is the behavior of people who refuse to acknowledge the problem. The latter madness is what needs to stop.

 

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