29TH APRIL 2018:
NARPANI YOUTH RUN
Club2Care set up a booth at the Narpani Youth Run event on April 29th, to raise awareness about mental health as one of the major issues facing our youth. We conducted a survey to find out from attendees of all ages how they felt about mental health and well-being, what some common mental health issues are, and how best we can help the Indian community.
We received a total of 50 surveys across all age groups, of which 38 respondents reported currently facing issues with their mental health (not necessarily officially diagnosed).
To get an idea of what these issues may be, the survey offered the following options: "severe stress/difficulty coping", "anxiety", "depression" and "other mental health issue (please state)".
We also asked what services they feel would be helpful. The options we gave were "mental well-being talks", "mental well-being activities", "counselling", "in-person support groups" and "online support groups", with an "others (please state)" field for suggestions.
And finally, we included an open-ended question welcoming any thoughts on mental well-being in the Indian community.
Here are the key trends we observed:
13-29 years, 16 respondents
Female 2 : 1 Male
Youth indicate severe stress as a major mental health issue, with a gender distribution roughly equal to the total respondents in this category. They felt most strongly that counselling and well-being activities would be helpful, followed by support groups. Mental well-being talks was the least popular option.
The youth were also the most vocal age group in the open-ended section. Here are some of the comments we received:
"I see depressing posts on social media most of the time. I think teenagers express their feelings online more than in real life."
"The stress levels of youth is rising due to lack of constructive outlets to release that stress."
"Stress from school / peer but can be overcome w right friends / activities."
"I feel that the issue with indian youth lies less in depression, etc but more on picking up the wrong coping mechanisms (vices) etc. Hence, making many indian youth "youth at risk"."
"They should have more support from their families."
"Stress over being minority in job application."
WOMEN IN THEIR 30s
30-39 years, 14 respondents
Female 11 : 3 Male
Women were significantly overrepresented in this age category, and they indicated severe stress and depression as major issues for them. In terms of what might help them, they significantly preferred counselling and in-person support groups over talks, activities and online support-groups.
ADULTS ABOVE 40
40-59 years, 9 respondents
Female 2 : 7 Male
Because this was a youth event, we had fewer older participants. Based on these limited responses: stress, anxiety and depression were equally significant, but all overwhelmingly felt counselling would be the most helpful for them.
COMMENTS & OBSERVATIONS
The profile of mental health needs amongst Indians varies with age and gender.
Severe stress is an important issue in our younger population. While itself not strictly a diagnosable mental illness, initiatives aimed at improving stress management and overall mental well-being could be crucial to addressing this growing concern.
Counselling is important for all age groups and genders.
Youth are keen to engage in well-being activities, while adults over 30 prefer in-person support groups.
Outreach/awareness talks are not a particularly popular option. Therefore, we must take extra care to tailor our programmes to ensure that they reach and genuinely help our target audience.
Alcohol dependence, a known issue in the Indian community, was not at all represented in this self-reported survey.
We acknowledge the role of socioeconomic status, family background and education level in mental well-being, which we did not explore here.
The Indian community is extremely diverse in terms of language. This could be a major barrier to receiving adequate care.
We had 2 respondents aged above 60, both indicating dementia as an issue. We recognise that the elderly population have unique mental health challenges, something for us to look into in the near future.
This is an informal & opportunistic survey conducted at a mental well-being event, so we cannot draw any definitive conclusions from our results. However, this survey does give us valuable on-the-ground insight into how Club2Care may best serve the needs of the Indian community.
A final note: One respondent wrote that engaging in volunteer work played a huge part in helping them cope with their own issues! This is a great reminder that helping others can empower us on our own journey toward mental wellness.