Seven Billion Stories: Dr Vikram Patel Discusses the Importance of Mental Health
The Festival of Ideas, a four-day literary and arts festival organised by the Editorial Board of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, was inaugurated at Dr T. M. A. Pai Hall along with a talk by Dr. Vikram Patel, on Thursday, August 30, 2018.
Dr. Patel in his lecture ‘7 Billion Stories’ went on to say, “Mental health is about the larger image, not just mental illness.” His belief is that each person has a unique story which is the essence of their own self, defined by their mental health. After stripping away the physical aspect, the essence that remains is one’s mental health.
He emphasised on the importance of teaching first aid to the society in terms of mental health. Further, he spoke of a hierarchy, where at each level, the difficulty in treating the patient increases. He goes on to explain that it is the duty of every individual to not only be prepared to help those who suffer from mental illness but also to understand their own limitations and know when to consult more experienced individuals. He also elaborated on how the early years is when young people are the most susceptible to developing mental illness, especially from puberty till the mid twenties.
Dr. Patel, a professor at Harvard School of Medicine and a specialised psychiatrist and researcher, based this workshop on the importance of mental health, not just as an illness faced by people all over the globe but also as an important factor that contributes to our well-being. He is also the co-founder of Sangath, an NGO based in India, which studies the areas of child development, adolescent and mental health by seeing young people as both the beneficiaries and at the heart of their programme.
“When your leg is bleeding, you don’t sit, watch it bleed and say, ‘Lets see how long this will continue bleeding.’ However, that is the exact thing we do with out mental health. If we don’t do that when our leg is bleeding, then we shouldn’t do that when our mind is bleeding,” says Dr. Patel.
According to the student organisers, the Festival of Ideas was conceptualised by the students of KMC to promote art and literature and bring about an interest among the students in the same during the first edition of the event.
The event was inaugurated with the auspicious lighting of the lamp by all the dignitaries, led by the Dr. Pradhna Rao, Dean of KMC, and Dr. Patel along with Dr. Gayathri Prabhu and Dr. Satrendra Singh among others.
“The talk was something that I never believed I could relate to on such a personal level,” said Sanobha Hassan, a third year MBBS student.
Another third year MBBS student, Anvi Alaksha says that Dr. Patel opened her eyes about mental health. “Earlier, we just viewed mental health as a sickness as physicians naturally do, but now we see that it’s something that affects us as well in all aspects.”
Featured Image Courtesy: Yeshaswini Srihari
Edited by: Drishti Sanyal