Book Reviews

Book Review – ‘Shhh Don’t Talk About Mental Health’ by Arjun Gupta

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Arjun Gupta

When a 22 year old lad, decides to write a book on Mental Health, it is likely to pique interest of someone like me, who has been already reading a lot about Mental Wellness. What makes the case to read this book more convincing is the fact that the author has himself battled severe clinical depression at such a young age. And once out of it, he has been spreading awareness about Mental Health through his blog and Youtube channel.

I have closely followed Arjun’s work and really appreciate the traction of his work. So it was a given that I was going to read this book. I have to confess that having read this book I realize how little I knew about the history and the case for maximum awareness for mental health. I am really glad that I lay my hands on this book. So here’s my review of  ‘Shhh Don’t Talk About Mental Health’ by Arjun Gupta

Book Review – ‘Shhh Don’t Talk About Mental Health’ by Arjun Gupta

The book is divided into different sections that slowly but gradually take the readers on a journey through the earliest records of mental health. And how the understanding of Mental Health or rather Mental Illness has evolved over the last century.

I would love to dwell into the topics that Arjun has touch upon. But I am more inclined to write about the thoughts and emotions that I went through while reading the book.

After reading the history of mental health, I realised that in the beginning it was only about mental illness. There was no concept as Mental Health. Either you were normal or you were mentally ill, or scratch that, either you were normal or you were evil.  Yes, that’s how things were until very recently. My soul shudders at the thought of how primitive the human race was that lacked compassion towards anyone who was differently abled and considered them as a burden and a curse.

Then came a phase of renaissance in the field of Mental Health and various psychiatrists and humanists established that the mentally ill need our care and compassion more than anyone else. That it was possible to revert some mental illnesses and bring the sufferers into mainstream life again. Seriously, my gratitude to all these blessed souls.

The more intriguing and mind boggling discussion is the one that follows in the section ‘For and Against Mental Health Awareness’ And I think, it is also the most relevant discussion in our times and age. Here Arjun brings forth how various psychiatrists have propagated the agenda for or against spreading awareness about Mental Health Issues. As a rational and a radically sensible reader, has your jaw dropped already? Hold on. There’s an argument here.

Have you ever thought, that by making the knowledge of mental health issues available to a larger section of people, we are creating douchebags who might just scuttle away from the problems of life rather than to persevere and stand up to the challenges of.

Well! I neither agree or disagree with the above argument. But it is some serious food for thought. It’s like that case of ‘true positive’ or a ‘false negative’ diagnosis and appropriate treatment thereafter.

The one thought that has stuck with me since I have read the book is that there is a section of population that romanticizes depression. Yes, I was shocked. But then after giving it some thought, I realised that it’s not false.

Quotes like  “Depressed people who are suicidal are angels who just want to go back home”

It causes my gooseflesh all over my body. The case for mental health awareness becomes stronger with such innuendos. The youth needs to be told, that there is nothing romantic about depression. That the one who harbors such thoughts need not be encouraged. She/he rather needs help.

The book also highlights how acceptance of the significance of mental health has also found divide in the western world and third world countries. How the current ecological system, propagates that depression is actually a ‘luxury’ of the rich? The poor aren’t entitled to such problems in their lives. Even before Arjun went on to mention and create a case, my mind wandered towards the case of farmer suicides. Not all farmers who are under debt commit suicide. It definitely has to do something with the mental health index that leads one to take that extreme step.

Arjun concludes with the case of Yashaswi, which I feel is inspired from his own life story and tells the world that it was not only his perseverance that he survived through depression, it was also the people around him, especially his immediate family and his friends who stood by him in his support that he was able to get back to life. And that is why Mental Health Awareness if required. So that people can help themselves and others.

“I may be brave, and I may be courageous not because of my depression… but despite it.”

I will carry this statement with me all my life. Because it will remind me that it is not in the hands of a person suffering from depression to be strong enough to emerge out of it successfully. That they need my help in whatever way possible.

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