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Mental Health Primer/Resource Collection

January 3, 2021
- Aditya, Surya, Sagnik, Anurag

College is a tough and transformative phase of life. You are forced to grow up and chart out your life in a short period with a frightening finality. Often this is accompanied by being in an entirely alien environment, surrounded by seemingly incompatible people who seem to have some or all parts of their lives figured out. It is no surprise that the college lifestyle makes students prone to physical and mental damage. While society is evolving to be more cognizant of mental issues, it is still hard to find a trusted source of information. Watch Out!, in collaboration with the team of Wellness Center IIT Roorkee, presents this primer on a few common themes about and related to mental illnesses.

This article aims to compile resources on mental illnesses that commonly occur among university students. It includes common symptoms and myths associated with common illnesses. This is meant to be merely a starting point and further information on causes, treatments, risk factors etc. can be obtained from the linked references.

Additionally, this article includes information on how to get help if you or someone you know has a mental illness.


Common Myths and Preconceptions

  1. Mental health problems are rare
    Mental illnesses are more common than we are led to believe. People of all ages (including children) can develop mental illnesses. Due to the stigma associated with these illnesses, we do not hear much about them and those suffering from them often do not get professional help.

  2. People with mental illnesses are likely to be violent and unpredictable
    The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are as likely to be violent as someone without a mental illness. In fact, it is more likely that they are victims of violence themselves.

  3. Mental illnesses are a result of character flaws. People can snap out of it if they try hard enough
    Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
    • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
    • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
    • Family history of mental health problems

    People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

  4. Each illness has a single cure
    Mental health professionals prescribe a treatment plan based on factors such as severity, the environment of the client, the client’s history etc. Treatment can involve a combination of therapeutic methods and drugs.


Depression may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. While sadness may feel all encompassing at times, it is an emotion that everyone experiences from time to time and fades away. In contrast, depression is a disorder that has long-term consequences and can drain the enjoyment and pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable.

Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate or severe. Clinical depression is a serious condition that causes those who suffer from it to withdraw from loved ones, take dangerous risks, start conflicts with others or even exhibit suicidal tendencies. It requires treatment to manage and overcome.

Manic depression or Bipolar Disorder is a similar mental illness that causes extreme mood swings. These highs (mania) and lows (depression) may occur in cycles or even at the same time, producing feelings of sadness and hopelessness while also being agitated and restless.


  • Depression is only brought on by a traumatic event.
    A life event, like the loss of a loved one, triggers feelings of sadness, loneliness and emptiness in everyone. However, those who deal with depression are more likely to experience those feelings for long periods of time and more frequently.

  • Dealing with depression is a normal part of life.
    Those who deal with depression don’t have to fight it alone. You can get help, and we encourage it. It’s possible to manage your depression. Depression is also not a normal part of getting older.

  • Only women get depressed.
    This is an outright lie. All individuals are susceptible to getting depressed. As discussed earlier, the risks faced by a specific individual may depend on a number of factors but there is no inherent distinction of the sort. Such myths serve to invalidate genuine problems and cause unnecessary suffering.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is characterized by excessive and persistent fear and worries. Anxiety leads to similar symptoms as stress: insomnia, fatigue, increased irritability, digestive trouble etc. The key difference is that the fear stays even after the stressor is removed. Anxiety may hold you back from doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may even prevent you from performing basic tasks such as entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the problem will worsen due to the nature of anxiety.

Sometimes, anxiety can be accompanied by panic attacks. Panic attacks involve intense fear that begins suddenly and often with no warning. This may be accompanied by racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and a fear of death. Most panic attacks last for 10-20 mins. There may or may not be an obvious trigger.


  • Panic attacks will cause you to faint or lose control
    This is unlikely to happen. Fainting occurs due to a drop in blood pressure while during a panic attack it tends to rise.

  • If you have anxiety you should avoid stressful situations
    While outlets from stress can provide some relief, avoiding anxiety tends to reinforce it and make things worse.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is the hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and other drugs, generally for mood-altering purposes. The word “abuse” refers to the consumption of more than that is prescribed. Substance abuse takes the form of a mental illness when an individual becomes highly dependent on these substances upon excessive usage. This can generate a variety of behavioural, psychological and cognitive disorders. Few examples of such substances are cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and a variety of alcohols.

Elaborate rehabilitation procedures have been developed over the years due to the frequent occurrence of substance abuse and challenges associated with overcoming addiction such as withdrawal and co-occurring conditions.

Symptoms and effects include:

  • Loss of self-control, cognitive and motor abilities.
  • Irresistible urge to consume substances on a regular basis.
  • Using these substances despite the harms it inflicts on the body and mind.
  • Prioritising drug use over other important activities and obligations.
  • Severe harm to emotional health and social relationships.


  • Drug addiction is voluntary
    Initially, occasional drug use might seem as voluntary and within one’s self-control, but it soon transits into a compulsive habit. This is because, over time, these drugs alter the way the brain functions. Dopamine levels become strongly correlated with the consumption levels of these substances and hence results in the uncontrolled use of drugs for the regular dopamine hit.

  • Equating drug addiction with loose character
    Drugs can affect the brain in complex ways and that too differently in different persons. This often leads to strange behaviour patterns, loss of cognitive and motor abilities, and random mood swings. People suffering from drug addiction are often perceived to be “uncivilised individuals” lacking moral values and thus are often denied help or sympathy. However, such symptoms do not indicate a “character flaw” but a serious mental illness that needs to be treated immediately.

  • Treatment is super easy: Simply throw away the drugs!
    Quitting on such an obsessive and regular habit is not so easy as it seems. Heavy substance abuse is not a form of recreation but a psychological compulsion which is hard to quit without proper rehabilitation, and an elaborate treatment process.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders refer to unhealthy eating habits that are a result of mental illnesses. Their causes go deeper than just food and often involve an obsession with body weight, shape and a number of stresses.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) involves eating large quantities of food regardless of hunger or capacity. Anorexia involves excessive weight loss due to being too conscious of body shape and weight.

Bulimia is a life-threatening eating disorder which includes episodes of bingeing and purging food, involving a feeling of lack of control over one’s eating habits. People eat a lot of food within a short span of time and then resort to unhealthy ways to get rid of the calories. Similar to anorexia nervosa, affected individuals are often too preoccupied with their body shape and weight.

In addition to severe immediate and secondary health issues, eating disorders are often accompanied by temporary relief followed by feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment. This can worsen existing conditions, cause additional mental illnesses and prevent seeking help and treatment.


  • People with BED are obese/People with Anorexia Nervosa are skinny
    While these statements may often be true, they are not the rule. Eating disorders are mental disorders not physical. Impacts on the physical body are a consequence of the effect of the disorder on the mind.

  • It is a lifestyle choice
    Some diets may be a conscious choice to achieve some objectives such as a certain physique or a level of fitness. However, eating disorders are accompanied by excessive stress and consciousness due to one’s body.

  • Bulimia nervosa is less serious than anorexia nervosa
    Bulimia nervosa is equally harmful to an individual. Purging by throwing up, using laxatives or over-exercising causes electrolyte imbalance, and malnourishment of organs like the brain and stomach.

How to support someone with a mental illness?

Supporting someone is not an easy task, especially as there may not be outwardly visible physical symptoms. It is important to listen carefully and without judgement when they describe their condition. Do not try to diagnose them or pressurise them for more information. It is important to give them space and respect their privacy.

It would help to learn more about their condition and look for professionals who could help them. It is often easy to forget that a mental illness is not a usual cycle of emotions but a serious problem that is best handled by experts. Learn to identify a crisis - a panic attack, hallucinations, suicidal tendencies - and be prepared for it. Know who their emergency contacts are.

Where to get help?

Mental health issues should be treated by qualified professionals.

The Wellness Center provides a number of resources to help the IITR populace. Sessions can be booked through this Google FormGoogle Form and can be conducted online during the pandemic. They are also available 24x7 via YourDost (helpline: +91-951-378-6177)for normal cases and the counsellors for emergencies. For more information on the working of the Wellness Center and mental health in IIT R, please refer to our interview with the counsellors.

The following list of facilities is courtesy of the Wellness Center.





Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) Dilshad Garden, Delhi-

Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital Dilshad Garden, Delhi-110095 Dr.

Indira Gandhi, ESI Hospital Jhilmil, Delhi


DR B R Ambedkar Hospital Rohini, Delhi

ESI Hospital Basai Darapur, Delhi

D.D.U. Hospital Hari Nagar, New Delhi


Bara Hindu Rao Hospital (MCD Hospital) Malka Ganj

ESI, Hospital Rohini, Delhi


Safdarjung Hospital New Delhi

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Ansari Nagar, New Delhi 110049


G.B. Pant Hospital Delhi Gate, New Delhi

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital New Delhi

Lady Harding Medical College New Delhi

Government Psychiatric Hospital- Haryana

Post graduate institute of medical science, Rohtak

Government Psychiatric Hospital- Jharkhand

Central Institute of Psychiatry, Kanke Road, Ranchi

Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry & Allied Sciences

Private Psychiatric Hospital- Jharkhand

Davis Institute of Neuropsychiatry

Government Psychiatric Hospitals- Maharashtra

Yerwada Mental Hospital, Pune

Regional mental hospital, Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Government mental hospital, Thane, Maharashtra.

Government mental hospital, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.

Private hospitals in Maharashtra

Mindcare Hospital for Mental and Sexual Health, Ratnagiri, Pune and Navi Mumbai

Government Psychiatric Hospitals- Karnataka

National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore

Dharwad Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Dharwad

Private Medical Colleges & Hospitals- Karnataka

Father Muller Medical College & Mental Health Centre, Kankanady, Mangalore

The Mind Research Foundation, Bangalore

Cadabams Rehabilitation Centre, Bangalore

[Spandana Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (SIMHANS)], Bangalore

[Manasa Hospital, Jayanagar], Bangalore

[Abhaya Hospital, Hosur Road], Bangalore

KMC Hospital, Manipal

K.S Hegde Hospital, Mangalore

Government Psychiatric Hospitals- Kerala

Government Mental Health Center, Oolampara, Trivandrum.[2]

Government Mental health centre - Thrissur

Government Mental health centre - Kuthiravattom, Kozhikode

Government Psychiatric Hospitals- Madhya Pradesh

Mental Hospital, Indore

Mental Hospital, Gwalior


Dr. Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health, Amritsar


Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh

Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, India

Tamil Nadu

Athma Hospitals and Research Pvt. Ltd, Trichy

Christian Medical College, Vellore

Schizophrenia research Foundation Chennai (SCARF)

Ahana Hospitals

Institute of Mental health, Chennai

Uttar Pradesh

King George Medical University, Lucknow

Dr Rakesh Kumar Paswan neuropsychiatry centre at Muir Road near Rajapur traffic churaha (dwivedi medical and research centre) Allahabad.

Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Agra

Mental Hospital, Bareilly


Government Psychiatric Hospitals

State Mental Health Institute, Dehradun

AIIMS- Rishekesh

Himalyan Institute of Medical Sciences, Jolly Grant (private) in Uttarakhand.

West Bengal

State-run Mental Hospitals

Calcutta Pavlov Hospital 18, Gobra Road,

Institute of Psychiatry 7, D.L. Khan Road,

Berhampore Mental Hospital, PO- Berhampur, Dist-Murshidabad

Institute for Mental Care PO+ Dist- Purulia 03252-223435

Toofangunj Mental, Hospital, PO-Toofangunj, Dist-Coochbehar

Mind Care Clinic, Kolkata