Book Review: A-Z of Mental Health by Arjun Gupta
At 60 pages, A to Z of Mental Health by Arjun Gupta is a quick read. It is quite meaty though. The author touches on different aspects of mental health, bringing a unique perspective as he himself has suffered depression. This lends the book a touch of authenticity and empathy, which distinguishes itself from the clinical nature of studies by psychologists on this subject. Here’s my book review-
It is well researched too. Some statistics which caught my eye- In the period of 2007 – 2010, 208 soldiers lost their lives fighting, while 368 soldiers committed suicide in India. That’s a sobering thought. The mental war is much tougher than the physical one. Still, there is stigma attached to mental illness, men must be men, and so trauma continues.
Although this is a heavy subject, Arjun introduces a note of hope throughout, talking about solutions, so the book is inspiring. For instance, he mentions ‘how effective the rotation policy of the Indian Army has turned out to be in keeping soldiers have a fresher mind. When compared to the US Army individuals, who have spent extended periods in foreign and alien locations like Afghanistan, Indian soldiers in Kashmir have a lower rate of reported stress and depressive feelings.’
There are some wonderful, pithy quotes in here. I agree that a counselor can help you, but can’t pull you out of the mire- you have to do that. As Arjun succinctly puts it from the counselors’ perspective- “We can only be your allies, your weapons and your shields. We can be anything you want us to be but we cannot fight this battle for you.”
Another heartening thought is we can be phoenixes- rising from our ashes. As Nietzsche says, what does not kill us makes us stronger.
Some topics Arjun touches on that don’t get so much air time are a comparison of mental health of students in educational institutions like medical colleges, engineering schools and liberal arts colleges. I would disagree with him about arts students being more sorted than their counterparts in medical colleges or engineering schools. Creative people have often been subject to mood disorders, and many humanities students put themselves in a dark place.
Another interesting topic covered is that of religion. Just like you need to have faith in your counselor, trust him or her, so too religion can often act as a stabilizing factor. Quotable quote- ‘It is easy to smile, it is much harder to be happy.’ It’s easy to put on a face to meet the faces we meet, as Eliot puts it, but inner happiness- now that’s a tough one.
Finally, Arjun talks about a burning issue today- workplace stress. ‘In India, 50% employees have complained of anxiety.’ I’m not surprised. With work pressures only increasing, we need to take charge of our mental health and stop fooling ourselves.
Although there are some minor nits- a few chapter numbers are wrong in the table of contents, some links and images are missing- overall this is a good introduction to the vast subject of the mind and its power, which can overpower us. Download it for free from Blogchatter for now. Here’s another book review I did.