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Mental Health Survey Analysis

December 30, 2020
- Kriti, Pritika, Surya, Aditya

This survey analysis is part of an article series on Mental Health by Watch Out!. The first installation of this series was an interview with mental health professionals from the Wellness Centre IITR, which can be found here.The third installment is a primer/resource collection that can be found here.

**This survey analysis is based on the data gathered by Watch Out! through the circulation of a Google Form. The survey garnered around 150 responses. As a result, it is NOT a complete or fair indicator of IITR’s mental health literacy. However, we believe it might offer key insights about the thought processes of Roorkee’s populace, and in any case, serves as an excellent portal for us to do away with certain kinds of myths regarding mental illnesses. This analysis has been vetted by, and is brought to you in conjunction with, Wellness Centre IIT Roorkee.


  • Around 58.69% respondents think autism is a mental illness
  • 10.6% respondents were not supported by friends or family.
  • 11.2% respondents think mentally ill people are more likely to be criminals.
  • 26.1% respondents are embarrassed by the term “psychological disorder”.
  • 45.8% respondents are apprehensive of what their relations will make of them, if they found out that the respondent had been diagnosed with a mental illness.
  • 72.1% respondents think that certain socio-economic sections of society are more likely to develop/sustain mental illnesses.
  • 61.8% respondents believe that some people are more likely to develop/sustain a mental illness owing to genetics
  • 50.4% of students believe a person could be born with mental illness.
  • 12.4% of the students are not aware of counselling facilities at IITR


While efforts were made to circulate the survey form amongst the entire Roorkee populace, an overwhelming 90.2% of the respondents were undergraduate students. Respondents were given the option to not fill up their gender; however most students submitted an answer for the same, and 58% of them identified as male.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the major source of information for respondents, on topics surrounding mental health, was found to be social media (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Reddit). Television serials and movies came a close second. Newspapers/magazines trailed in third position, and educational experiences were a dismal fourth in the list of disseminators. A host of individual responses, where students cited a vast array of resources - ranging from personal experience to an innate sense of curiosity - were also noted.


The role that responsible social media posts, TV shows and movies play in initiating a public discourse about mental health, and ushering related issues into the general social consciousness, is undeniably pivotal. However these cannot always be treated as reliable sources of information. While respected newspapers and magazines usually publish content that has been vetted by professionals, a proper course experience, conducted by a certified mental health professional, remains the infallible and foremost resource for a thorough education on mental health. We realise that for a plethora of reasons, partaking in such a course is not always feasible. Resources like the one currently being corroborated by Watch Out! (of which this article is a part), which have been vetted by certified professionals (in this case the Wellness Center) serve to act as excellent second choices in such cases. A deluge of links and resources can be found in our Primer article (the third installation in this series; link found above).


The underwhelming response from the graduate/post-graduate students points to a plausible larger issue - the social disconnectedness of the PG students. While seemingly unrelated to the object of this article, this disconnectedness does bear the potential - in unfortunate cases - to snowball into a chronic feeling of loneliness, isolation and despair : all precursors to, or symptoms of depression/other related mental illnesses. Efforts must be made collectively to address this issue.


The response to all three questions in this category was invigoratingly positive. The majority of respondents answered that mental illness did have a genetic and socio-economic component to it. A significant minority however responded with either ‘No’ or ‘Not sure’. In any case, please do read on.


Mental health disorders can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some disorders have been linked with the malfunction of certain neurons and neurochemicals. It has been observed that people with multiple family members having a certain disorder are more likely to develop it as well. The severity of their symptoms can vary widely and correlates with their environment. It is believed that this is due to variation in multiple genes and not caused by flipping a single gene.

Multiple studies have also agreed upon a simple fact : higher levels of income and class inequalities lead to higher levels of mental illnesses. This seems somewhat obvious on the face of it - oppression, both social and economic, is bound to lead an individual to poverty, misery, possible isolation, etcetera. In the Indian context, a befitting example would be the plight of the farmers of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, and the related farmer suicides.

Read more on all of this here :

  2. Macintyre, A., Ferris, D., Gonçalves, B., & Quinn, N. (2018). What has economics got to do with it? The impact of socioeconomic factors on mental health and the case for collective action. Palgrave Communications, 4(1), 1-5.
  3. Wang, J., & Geng, L. (2019).Effects of socioeconomic status on physical and psychological health: lifestyle as a mediator. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(2), 281.
  4. Bomble, P., & Lhungdim, H. (2020).Mental health status of Farmers in Maharashtra, India: A study from farmer suicide prone area of Vidarbha region. Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health.


As seen quite clearly in the chart, Roorkee responded with a resounding yes, which is excellent news.


Like with physical illnesses, mental illnesses can vary in severity. Treatment methods include counselling therapy, psychiatric drugs and more extreme procedures. A more detailed variant of/resources related to this answer can be found in our Primer article.


There is a considerable gulf observed between the respondents’ understanding of what constitutes a psychiatric disorder and what doesn’t. Granted that the wording of the question in our form was not entirely technical here - we asked respondents to choose mental illnesses, not psychiatric disorders, which can perhaps be misleading, but we stress here that they are technically the same. A large number of respondents classified autism as a mental illness/psychiatric disorder - a clear indicator that the distinction between psychiatric and neurological disorders isn’t apparent to a large portion of the respondents.


While the symptoms of these two classes of disorders may sometimes be hard to tell apart, these classes deal with entirely different types of problems and consequently are different domains of specialized study. Neurological disorders are a consequence of malfunction or damage to the nervous system while psychiatric ones focus on disturbed behaviour and emotional states.

Consequently, many mental health issues are to a large extent curable, while neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease etc (as of today) have no cure.

The Autism Spectrum refers to variations in the human brain related to sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. It is not a ‘disease’ that can be cured. Many people on the spectrum and other neuro-divergents at large, would prefer to be treated as another natural variation in the human species, and are seen as being ‘challenged’ only due to the environment created by neuro-typicals. The autism experience is not uniform and the needs of those at different ends of the spectrum varies widely.

Recent research has tried to understand the neurological basis/component of traditionally psychiatric disorders - the lines are pretty gray here. This is not altogether surprising since a prominent cause for a psychiatric disorder like depression is the malfunction of important neurons - a CNS problem.

Thus although it is tough to make blanket claims about certain disorders, there are others - like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, autism, etcetera that are wildly different from the commonly found psychiatric disorders, and it is useful to keep the underlying difference in mind.


A significant majority of respondents agreed that the best course of action for family members/friends/loved ones would be to counsel the concerned individual to consult a mental health professional, whilst also providing them leeway to open up if they feel the need.

A few respondents (amounting to roughly 13%) , whilst answering for the response of family members, either opted to advise the concerned individual to open up to as many people as possible, or believed that the person needed to adhere to a disciplined life, owing to the fact their illness was a consequence of their inability/unwillingness to cope with issues.

Other respondents, whilst answering for the response of friends and loved ones, believed that while professional help is a must, since such individuals are likely to be hotsprings of negativity, keeping them at a safe distance from the general populace/friend circle - at least till they get better - is necessary.

Some also answered that since any mental illness has the potential to snowball into a catastrophe of unforeseen proportions, contacting the individual’s family members, with or without the person’s consent, is a must.


Mental health issues are serious problems that should be accorded the same respect as physical ones, if not more. Leaving problems untreated leads to impacts on personal and professional life, a general unhealthy state of being and can potentially increase the severity of a currently benign issue. They should be diagnosed and treated only by qualified professionals.

Mental health issues have not been normalized and there still exists widespread denial and even ridicule of these problems. In this context, it is very important to respect the privacy of individuals you know to be suffering from a certain condition. Breaching this privacy has a real risk of resulting in personal and professional losses (among other things) which can further worsen the initial condition.

It is imperative to make it clear to the concerned individual that the ball is in the person’s court - it is upto them if they wish to open up or talk. That being said however, slight encouragement/expression of concern does go a long way, but this is a highly subjective point and will vary from case to case. It is advisable to keep in mind the specific nature of the person here. However, outright alienation, whilst maintaining the belief that mentally ill people will always spew negativity wherever they go, is a counter-productive belief that serves to help none.

Yes, a consequence of mental health issues is an inability to cope with real world issues. It doesn’t, however, work the other way around - an inability to cope with issues doesn’t render a person mentally ill. It is important to get rid of the notion that mentally ill people just need a dose of discipline and some strictness in their life, so as to be able to complete daily tasks. This of course will not solve the underlying mental health issue, and professional help remains a must.

All of this must be considered in context. There may be a legitimate threat that an individual may commit self harm. In such cases, intervention may be essential. These decisions must be made sensitively, while accounting for all potential outcomes and alternatives.


Most of the responses here have been largely positive, or well informed. A decent amount of these issues have already been discussed in the interview (installation numero uno), in our primer article (installation numero tres) and in this self same analysis piece you find yourselves reading. A novel issue observed was the problem of whether psychological disorder is recurrent. It is important to keep in mind here, the difference between treatable and curable. Most psychological disorders are largely treatable/manageable, but not entirely curable. For this reason, treatment can last for extremely lengthy periods of time - decades or even entire lifetimes. However most of the common psychological disorders, when detected in the early benign stages, are treated with ease using a combination of medication and therapy. While it is true that these individuals are more susceptible to relapses once the treatment period is over, the purpose of undergoing efficient therapy sessions is to equip oneself with the tools required to keep the demons of our own mind at bay.

A huge percentage of the respondents (82.8%) claimed to have known people in their own lives who suffered from mental illness. When it comes to the question of whether or not friends and families were supportive during their own periods of illness, the pie from 94 respondents (this was not a compulsory question) seems to be evenly split, indicative of the fact that a massive drive to boost mental health awareness - both on a national level and an institute level - is required. The Wellness Centre has already taken steps in this direction, the details of which can be found in our interview (link).

Wellness Center & Literacy Stats

A large chunk of respondents responded positively about the need for a mental health literacy course in schools/colleges. A significant majority also claimed to know about the existence of a Wellness Center on our campus. However 66% respondents admitted to having not filled any forms released by the Wellness Center.


We would like to reiterate the fact that this analysis has been done for data gathered from a small sample space - it is likely that there will be differences if and when an analysis of the entire junta is done. However, our objective of dispelling common myths and misconceptions surrounding the general notion of mental health, is independent of the relative number of misinformed people; we hope this article serves to inform and educate.


“I have always felt like an outcast in society and even though it might seem I have many friends, it’s hard to say if any of them are very close to me. I have a tendency to push people away thinking I’m not good enough. I decided to talk to a professional recently but I only feel comfortable doing it in person.”

“I don’t think I should label it some sort of a mental illness, perse but yes it affected me in a way that it still reflects in my actions and how I talk to other people. I used to be super under-confident. I used to hurt myself physically because I felt like it would make me feel a greater pain momentarily and what went inside my head would go away eventually. I distanced myself completely from everyone. I used to stay in my hostel room for days, not go to classes and sleep like a dead person. Although it has gone away now, that phase still takes over me sometimes and it’s hard to detach myself from it completely. But I know that had I talked to someone about it, it could have been better. I just didn’t trust anyone enough with my insecurities.”