‘Taking a selfie has become like an infectious disease’
On the eve of World Mental Health Day, observed each year on October 10, Prachi Bari caught up with Dr Mohan Agashe, actor and founder of the Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health in Pune to take a closer look at the issues surrounding mental health in today’s day and agepune Updated: Oct 09, 2017 15:32 IST
What are the trends we see in terms of dealing with mental health issues?
Throughout my practice, the general tendency is people don’t know the precise concept of what is mental health. We mistake our information for our experience, information for our knowledge. Selfies is now officially recognised as an addiction and illness due to the many deaths that have happened while taking selfies. The whole trend is that the moment you have a smartphone, you start clicking photograph as if you have been training for it throughout your life. We presume we know it and the moment we lay our hands on a mobile, we think that we are photographers. Instead of using your time to live, you are using your time to store living; that is why you need to know about mental health. Mental health is a thing you do when you are living. It is not a separate entity at all. The whole concept of a healthy life is connected to a healthy mind. The problem is that the concept of mind is abstract, unlike the concept of body, which is concrete. What you see is the surface of the body; you don’t actually see the body. So when you hear someone talk from his conscious mind what you see is his conscious mind.
What is wrong with taking selfies?
One cannot understand why you take a selfie. Taking a selfie has become like an infectious disease. You simply follow the crowd or feel left out. It is a passive way of getting involved. This is not life; you are storing your life in your phone and forgetting to live life with real memory. When you do something with a specific purpose you draw attention to somebody, but if you are habituated to a particular thing then that’s when mental health comes in picture. It can become stereotypical behaviour, or delusional behaviour. Addiction is something which is done repeatedly that can cause you harm without your knowledge. Unless we first understand the whole dynamics of mental processes it’s very difficult to understand the concept of mental health. It is a changing entity, place to place, time to time.
What can be done to help people with such addictions?
Addiction is when you get restless and want to keep on doing a certain thing and if you don’t get to do it, you are irritated. This dependence on things is what takes you to addiction.
Can social media be a kind of addiction?
People grow with the change. This is the dynamic process of change. A change which comes inherently with time and needs is different from change which comes from limitations, so you can’t all it an addiction.
IS there still a social stigma attached to approaching a counsellor for help?
In fact, nowadays, many of the youngsters are much more aware and approach a counsellor not because they think they are ill, but for how to make themselves better. They think they can function better. Among the older generation, there is a stigma attached. They have good acceptance to being psychically ill, but mental illness is to say that something is deliberately wrong with a person. Thus health has to do with a better quality of life not with length of life. It is not about a structural concept.