The Mother Of All Health: Mental Health — Dr Subasker Jayaprakasam

Being a product under the “Indian Parenting Development Project”, I grew up under intense stress to always achieve only success and nothing but success.

The recent death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput was very devastating to the Bollywood community and also to others in the world. The reason being is because he was a young and talented actor who committed suicide and the underlying cause of this is ‘depression’. Depression is a type of mental health that can affect anybody, regardless of their gender and skin colour.

But the funny irony that surrounds his death is that people started talking about him more after his death, comparatively to the moment when he was alive. Perhaps if he had shared his problems with someone or cried to a friend, he would not have taken his own life abruptly.

A World Health Organization mental health study shows that nearly 800,000 people die worldwide because of suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Out of this 800,000 victims, 135,000 (17%) are residents of India, a nation with 17.5% of the world’s population.

In the year 2006, it was reported that 30 to 35 Malaysian Indians per 100,000 are committing suicide annually compared to 10 to 12 Malaysians per 100,000, as per reported by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

This is indeed a very sad statistic where the prevalence of suicide is higher among the Indian ethnic group regardless of their residency. Hence, it would be quite interesting to scrutinise what might be the root cause of this “hara-kiri” act by Indians around the globe.

Mental health development starts from childhood, hence parenting plays an important role in a child’s mental health development. So being a product under the “Indian Parenting Development Project”, I grew up under intense stress to always achieve only success and nothing but success.

Failure or the inability to achieve something is always prohibited in almost every Indian family (not only in Malaysia but I believe in the world). So here comes this first and foremost mistake that every parent does, which is programming your child to only handle success.

Most suicide victims are not programmed to handle failures. The best success habit is getting trained for handling failures, so a humble request to all parents out there, please do not only programme your child to be successful, but teach them how to handle failures because knowledge about life will help them to face every problem like a lion. I was pushed for success by everyone around me, but no one told me when I was a child that it is “okay” to fail at times in life.

So as we see here: “If we spend some quality amount of time in educating our juniors to handle failure” and encourage them to improvise from their previous mediocre achievement, we will not create a human who is afraid to make mistakes in life.

So the takeaway message from this is: “Success is a lousy teacher. Failure teaches you more”.

The second mistake that most parents commit is “fulfilling your unachieved dreams through your children”. Every human has the rights to own their dream. All of us are different, so our dreams, interest and passion will differ as well.

So just because you were unable to achieve something that you always wanted in your life, that does not mean that your children bears the responsibility to fulfil your unachieved goals. Certain parents even go to the extent of pushing their poor child over the limit in the name of “encouraging”. On most occasions, this will lead to mental stress, anger and depression in our younger generations.

Please help them in finding their passion because “their dream is bigger than ‘your’ dreams”.

The third parenting mistake would be the reluctance of certain highly egoistic parents in wishing “congratulations” to their children’s achievement. Some parent do live with a third-class mentality that congratulating their child even for a small achievement will regress their desire for more, but the truth is, a small child will not understand your “future thoughts”.

They might feel underappreciated by their own parents. So please do start appreciating every small achievement in their life because they are only expecting love from you. If you have a habit of telling them “98/100 is not good enough, please score 100 in your next examination”. I would highly recommend you to look into the mirror and rethink when was the last time you have achieved 100/100 in your school examination.

So the learning value is: “Appreciate your child’s achievement regardless of their stature.”

I personally know a university lecturer who is, until now, struggling with low self-esteem and inferiority complex. Knowing her personally, she perhaps grew up in an environment where she had a smart elder sister to be compared with by her “Indian” parent. The benchmark was already set very high where even a 0.1 % achievement less than her sister is considered as a failure.

This is the moment where lack of encouragement from common peers plays a major role. Although she is academically successful now, she is still struggling with self confidence because she is not used to getting accolades for her childhood achievement. Is it her fault for having a sister with an IQ level higher than hers?

The takeaway message here is, “Do Not COMPARE your children”. Comparison creates jealousy and this creates vengeance and at, one point, if “the imbecile” parent continues their foolish act of comparison, that vengeance may turn deadly.

Always teach your children that “You can do whatever you want in your life but the only difference is you can do it better than others”. Always congratulate them if they try but fail. Make them understand the importance of trying because most people won’t even try. Stop harassing them mentally by asking them to drink another “friend’s urine” just because he/she scored higher marks than them.

Stop insulting the garbage collector on the road by telling your son/daughter that “If you do not study well, you will end up collecting garbage”. Instead, tell them: “If you study well, you will be able to create a better life or future for garbage collectors”.

Parents should always think outside academic success. Encourage extra skills for them, show them that there is a world outside of academia. Sushant Singh Rajput was one with great academic success, but unfortunately the industry was mean towards him because of the practice of nepotism in Bollywood.

The problem of nepotism and cronyism will be everywhere around us, even in the highest level of a country’s politics, but we should prepare our younger generation to face it bravely. If someone told Sushant this, perhaps he would have not hanged himself.

Please do teach our next generation that life will not always be a bed of roses, guide them to set realistic targets, and always explain to them that “Life is like a piano. The white keys are your happy moments and the black keys are your sad moments, but remember that both are played together to produce sweet music, which is the music of your life”. Make them understand that if life is pushing you to the maximum limit at one point, there will be a moment when things get better.

In conclusion, let’s create a community who is not afraid to fail, let’s educate our children to live happily, and let’s create a society that will not have stigma that “suicide is the solution for every problem in life”.

At the end of the day, our children’s grades do not play a bigger role than their mental health.

You may also like