Google job that wasn’t: The case shows how little we care about mental health issues | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Google job that wasn’t: The case shows how little we care about mental health issues

That the mental state of the boy went unnoticed, and his teachers and parents were all oblivious to his deteriorating condition shows how little we care about mental health issues.

editorials Updated: Aug 10, 2017 11:48 IST
The needs and problems of adolescents and young adults, if ignored at that stage, could affect the quality of their life as adults, making their lives and the lives of their near and dear ones that much harder.
The needs and problems of adolescents and young adults, if ignored at that stage, could affect the quality of their life as adults, making their lives and the lives of their near and dear ones that much harder.(AFP)

The recent incident of a Chandigarh schoolboy’s claims of having been offered a job in the tech company Google is a sad tale of irresponsibility on the part of the school authorities, and an even sadder commentary on the importance paid to mental health issues in India. When the boy claimed that he would be paid Rs 12 lakhs per month by Google, the school and the government department, without pausing to check the veracity of the claim, released the name of the boy and his photograph to the press. When the news finally turned out to be false, the boy’s name, address, photographs and many other personal details had already been widely publicised.

Unable to bear the ignominy that came after, the boy broke down and had to be admitted to hospital and has since been diagnosed with confusional psychosis; a state in which the troubled person is likely to suffer from delusions. The trauma the boy (and his family) is now going through is hard to imagine. The point that must be noted here is that until his condition became so grave that he had to be admitted to hospital, no one at his school or home noticed that anything was wrong with him. That the mental state of the boy went unnoticed, and his teachers and parents were all oblivious to his deteriorating condition shows how little we care about mental health issues. The fact that many educational institutions have no counsellors or healthcare professionals to deal with such issues shows that mental health is not considered a priority. And the few counsellors there are not really qualified to handle a serious crisis. This imerits immediate attention. The needs and problems of adolescents and young adults, if ignored at that stage, could affect the quality of their life as adults.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that in India, the burden of mental health problems is of the tune of 2,443 DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) per 100,000 population. The WHO also estimates that India faces an economic loss of $ 1.03 trillion between 2012 and 2030, due to mental health conditions. A lot more needs to be done to remove the stigma and taboos associated with mental health issues, because it is costing us more than just money.