How often do we see people complain saying they are unable to handle pressure or the workload is taking a toll on them? In today’s ultra-competitive environment which thrives on cut-throat competition, second best isn’t always good enough. It seems hard to settle for anything less than the best. This has particularly affected student life with youngsters pressurizing themselves at each step to keep pushing their limits; first to enter a good college, then to stay numero uno there, hoping that this eventually helps in them bagging a decent job. Between this merry-go-round of success, failure, hope, and expectations, people have ended up punching above their weight, but at a cost. This has paved the way for depression and mental health issues such as anxiety, burnout, loss of motivation and other stress-related illnesses, especially when things aren’t going one’s way.

Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t a state of the mind, but a chemical reaction in the brain, that leads to extended periods of fear, anxiety, and loneliness. As such, there need not be any particular reason for depression to occur. It can afflict in the most uncertain or the murkiest way possible. At other times it can hit one due to a plethora of reasons ranging from fear of failure to the loss of someone close. What is for certain though is that mental health-related illnesses are menacing and not something to be ignored. It’s not exclusive to gender, religion, country or even monetary status. Even the most successful people have suffered from such issues. Someone like Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone has openly spoken about her battle against depression and has encouraged people to speak up and seek treatment as that’s the best, and perhaps the only way out. She is one of the many celebrities to have come out clean on this. In student life, if it’s not treated at the initial stage itself it could aggravate. This could put a student’s life in jeopardy as the pressures of adulthood are set to multiply manifold.

The most intriguing part about mental health issues is that it is not restricted to times of failure. It can even happen when someone seems to be having things his way but is fighting a different battle within. Another key but less talked about issue is that of burnout. Everyone has a limit up to which they can push themselves. Many dig deeper into their inner reserves to achieve their set goals. This often takes its toll over a period of time and leads to burnout. The energy reserves are exhausted to a point of no return. This makes workload-management of utmost importance. It’s crucial to not get carried away and take breaks to recharge one’s batteries. Loss of motivation in one’s profession is the consequence of a burnout. One of the world’s greatest tennis players Novak Djokovic admitted to feeling empty having lost motivation after winning the French Open (the only missing trophy from his glittering cabinet) in 2016, to become the first man in 47 years to hold all 4 grand slams at the same time. It was this very same motivation and burning desire to succeed that propelled him to the top of the game. Suddenly this flame was off. It led to a 2 year period of decline. The tank was empty. All because of the energy he had put in over the years. It had finally taken its toll and a fall was imminent.

In student life, depression and anxiety is as common as snow in Siberia. The rate of student suicide has blown the roof in the past few years. Suicides and other means of harming oneself aren’t knee-jerk reactions. The symptoms are evident for a while. Just that it’s either brushed off as mainstream or the student is apprehensive to speak up due to the stigma surrounding mental health. That’s what needs to change. Mental well-being is paramount and its illness has got nothing to do with being ‘mentally weak’. Beliefs that are contrary to this are toxic to society. It’s time to end this stigma and speak up. Those even with the slightest hunch of not being at their ‘mental best’ should open up on their troubles and seek therapy from a specialist at the earliest. Remember, an arm around the shoulder of someone in need can go a long way in ensuring the well-being of that person.