As each passing year comes to a close it urges me to reflect upon what next. What should we look at now? How do we make sure what we look forward to does in fact become a reality? Each year brings a lot of new factors and vectors that gain seeming importance in contrast to what seemed relevant in the previous year. There are new aspirations, new concerns, new rules and regulations, and new concerns, each of which shape our way forward.

This year I decided that I would not look at what next for an individual. I would not look at what can be done to sustain ourselves through the year. Instead I want to talk about our vision for mental health in this coming year.

As I reflect…

My reflections of the past push me to recall the time when mental health did not find a mention in our vocabularies. It remained a shrouded concept, a feared contagion, something that could not be understood. Undoubtedly a lot has changed. We talk about mental health more openly. We look at the plight of those affected with empathy and understanding. We identify with the struggles of others and think about how things can be different. We talk about inclusion and inclusiveness and we debate over the need to create systems which are self-sustaining for those who suffer.

But there still remains a divide. Not one of us can stand today and say that this is a reality across the length and breadth of our country. A lot has changed in the more urban, metropolitan areas but a lot more remains desired.

As we move forward…

My thoughts highlight the need for ensuring that there is greater awareness and acknowledgement of the impact of mental health related conditions. This needs to be a reality throughout the huge expanse of our country. That has to be our goal for the coming year. And the way forward involves working together to achieve this end. Professionals need to extend themselves and society needs to dig deeper within itself to provide support.

Initiatives are needed in collaboration with government agencies that help propagate the importance of working in the area of mental health and that are directed towards treating mental health related illnesses.

This new year of 2016 needs to herald in a change that really does change the face of mental health. That is my vision.

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