Why Middle-Class Families Hesitate To Address Mental Health Issues

As someone who has taken therapy, I can vouch that it is not easy for middle-class families to start therapy, even if they are aware of its significance. But there are other constraints such as 'log kya kahenge' that is holding them back from seeking mental healthcare

Kalyani Ganesan
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Maya* a 30-year-old, was done trying to make her toxic marriage work for five years. So, with her kid in tow, she returned to her parents’ home and announced that she was going to apply for divorce.


As a result of enduring an abusive marriage, Maya was suffering from anxiety and depression. Very soon, she started having gigantic outbursts and breakdowns. Her parents presumed that she was affected by some kind of negativity and forcibly took her to several places of worship, ashrams, astrologers, healers, etc, to ward off the evil spirits and blackness.

Maya kept insisting that she needed therapy and not any of these rituals. Like every other typical Indian middle-class family, it took several months for Maya to convince her parents and finally begin therapy.

This is just one example of the numerous Indian families that fail to acknowledge the concept of mental health. In the 21st century, more people are aware that stress, anxiety, and depression are mental health issues that can be treated with therapy and medications. However, traditional healing practices, which include superstitious methods, continue to prevail among the middle class. The understanding of mental health issues among middle-class people in India begins and ends with "negativity" and "evil spirits." 

According to a pan-India survey by news aggregator Inshorts, the number of people seeking any form of therapy is just 14.66 per centBut why? Why, despite several celebrities, from Deepika Padukone to Selena Gomez, being vocal about their mental health issues, is the middle-class sector averse to addressing mental health issues?

Why Middle-Class Indians Hesitate To Seek Therapy

Psychologist Aishwarya Ejoumale, founder of WonderHuman, said that more people are aware of mental health issues as a concept, but they fail to prioritise them, and one of the primary reasons is the stigma associated with them. “A lot of my clients are undergoing therapy without the knowledge of their family because of a lack of understanding. Some of them don’t even openly talk about mental health or disclose taking therapy to their friends for fear of being ridiculed as weak, emotional, or overdramatic.”


Echoing the same view, psychologist Parameshwari remarked that while people are very candid about visiting a cardiologist, they are hesitant to open up about visiting a psychologist. “But why? Why should people feel ashamed to get their mind treated by a psychologist, just like getting their heart treated by a cardiologist? Isn’t mental health equally important as physical health? Why should the former alone be associated with shame?

Yet another reason why middle-class people are hesitating to address mental health issues is financial constraints. As someone from a middle-class family who has taken therapy, I can vouch that therapy can be super expensive. It is not easy for middle-class people who are not even on the tax slab to start therapy, even if they are aware of its significance.

When Maya* finally began seeing a psychologist, her parents were taken aback at the cost of therapy. They again tried to convince her that seeing an astrologer and performing certain rituals would solve the problem and that it was insensible of her to spend so much on therapy. Thankfully, since Maya is financially independent, she has the means to continue therapy, but what about those who don’t?

It's high time middle-class society broke free from the “log kya kahenge” mentality and prioritised their well-being, even if it meant seeing a therapist to address their mental health issues. It would also be appreciable if initiatives were implemented to make mental health more affordable and accessible.

This World Mental Health Day, let's take a pledge to prioritise our mental health, be supportive of those who are doing the same, and spread awareness about the need to address mental health issues.

Views expressed by the author are their own

Suggested Reading: 7 Reasons Why You Need To Work On Your Mental Health Now

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