Top mental health professionals including Dr. BN Gangadhar released an open letter yesterday on Twitter asking media outlets to not create panic or to indulge in negative reporting from crematoriums. They talked about how certain images or visuals related to this covid surge have affected the mental health of several people. They also advised the media outlets to help empower people by making them ready to tackle this pandemic by publishing important information such as where can one find the medicine or any other medical types of equipment they need in these times of scarcity and chaos.
Mental health professionals and doctors raising this issue is not the first time as several social media influencers had also raised the issue of spreading positivity over the negativity prevalent in the society due to this horrific second wave which hit the country almost a month ago. All of these talks of spreading positivity started when the media began reporting and showing the horrific reality of the country. Not only national media but also international media dedicated their front pages to the cause of reporting the disaster taking place in India. Visuals of burning pyres en masse and usage of words such as apocalyptic, catastrophe, and failure with regards to the Indian government’s management of the second wave went viral worldwide. Indian Commission in Australia had to write to the editor of The Australian citing their reporting to be malicious and spreading falsehood when the newspaper’s front page which was outrightly criticizing Modi went viral on the internet.
The letter which was posted yesterday specifically described how media personnel swarm over the bereaved going through deeply emotional moments to garner a few eyeballs. It is true, most journalists of this country and many media outlets have sold their souls and do anything and everything for the sake of TRP. However, the letter by the medical professionals in some way mixed dirty journalism with real journalism and somehow gave a message that the on-ground reporting should be kept from the masses in totality. That has its own ill effects too. The masses deserve to know the condition of the society they live in however grim the condition be.
India has recorded fewer deaths than Brazil and Mexico despite having recorded cases in a much larger capacity than the two Latin American countries. The government is being accused of concealing the real number of deaths. Local media have reported stark differences between the official death tally of the state and the actual number of bodies in crematoriums and burial grounds. Many crematoria have spilled over into parking lots and Delhi’s largest Muslim graveyard is running out of space as nearly 40 bodies a day are being buried. It becomes unclear as to what was the actual intention behind publishing that open letter. Was its concern really the mental well-being of the country or was it an attempt to try and whitewash the government’s and the society’s failure at large in tackling this deadly pandemic?
Bodies being burnt on the footpath, or the visuals of crematorium not having an inch where a body is not burning, or a sight of uncountable graveyards readied to lower bodies in them, or sight of dead bodies lying lifeless outside a hospital in hoard can definitely disturb the mental balance of even the sanest human being but it is what it is. People are experiencing the losses of their loved ones right in their very homes, all of those sights are not news to them, most of the people of this country know exactly what sorta apocalyptic environment they are living in. Mental health is important as well, it should be at the topmost of our priorities but to accept the reality is important too. To conceal the real image of a society one lives in, if not worse, is as bad as to tamper with someone’s mental health.