Bringing in the foreground- the issue of rising mental health issues with those strata of the society which is pushed in the background with ease of oblivion, negligence, and denial.
The one we honour with superficial and pretentious superlatives like a multi-tasker, caregiver and resilient is subjected to suit the likes of our ease and comfort, where we as a society conveniently flip the switch from that- to labelling her as a nobody, serving subject and a labour machine who has no entitlement to emotions of her own. This only throws light on the irony, hypocrisy, and failure of a coherent society.
Perpetually propagated ideology since time immemorial till today is celebration and romanticism of the sacrifices and suppression of desires that the housewives engulf in for the sake of their families. We often express ourselves as being grateful to the relentless hard work our mothers and wives do for us when de facto we should be feeling guilty. The learning outcome should be to change the status quo, and not to further reinforce it. The apportion of this baggage has resulted in multiple mental health issues in our homemakers.
The most common cases would include homemakers facing anger issues, anxiety and depression as common threads. The stressors are the daily domestic hassles. Amidst all of this, if they take a break and mistakenly use it in watching soap operas, which should ideally provide an escape from their tiring life, it consequently does more harm than good. Working on the kernel of truth, a majority of them further sell the idea of an idealistic cohesive ‘bahu’ who is the chastest soul on earth and would do wonders for the sake of her family. Early arranged marriage, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence, and economic dependence are some of the gruesome factors which affect them physically but more mentally because treatment for the latter is not even an option.
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that one of the largest groups of suicides in India are housewives. Approximately 63 housewives took their own lives every day in the year 2018 accounting for 17% of all suicides on average. It’s already a known fact that NCRB data is guilty of underestimation since many cases go unrecorded. Instances of burn injury against housewives have been deliberately turned to be reported as accidents as reported by India spend indicates the further depletion of the authenticity of the data.
Psychological disorders such as multiple personality disorder when found among women especially in rural areas and those in urban areas who have superstitious beliefs are taken to shamans for exorcism where they are physically tortured. Even in educated households, some husbands are found guilty of falsifying mental illness allegations on their wives to institutionalize them and get an easy divorce. The conditions of institutions in India are very poor and what happens inside them to these women goes unquestioned. This was reported by the vice.
Suppression of sexual desires, the discrepancy between the real self and ideal self and mental exhaustion among other things which go unnoticed form the crux of the problems. From casual ignorance to complete disdain for the share of work done, homemakers have fallen victim to varying degrees of mental health issues. Acknowledgement of the work done by housewives and accreditation of dignity which has been long overdue can go a long way in alleviating the problems. Mental illness itself is a taboo in our country and access to therapeutic facilities is a privilege. With such uprise in suicidal tendencies and depression and lack of infrastructure and free-thinking society, the least we can do is to deconstruct the problematic approaches of inherent patriarchy which puts women in vulnerable positions in the first place.
Featured Image Credits: The Guardian