TODAY -

World Mental Health Day 2022
- Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority -

Dr N Heramani / Dr Seram Chaoba Devi *



The world had a host of mental health issues that weren’t properly being treated, there were struggles to gain public funding for treatment, inhumane treatment in many parts of the world and overall ignorance in regards to what mental health actually is.

The World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) knew that they needed to act on a global scale to solve a global crisis. So starting in 1992 and continuing on, the world mental health day is observed on 10th October every year.

Mental health/Mental well-being : It refers to a state of being emotionally, psychologically and socially healthy. It is essential for overall well-being and as important as physical health. Mental health is critically important for everyone, everywhere : Mental health is an integral part of our general health and well-being and a basic human rights. Having good mental health means we are better able to connect, function, cope and thrive.

Mental health conditions are highly prevalent. About 1 in 8 people globally live with a mental disorder. Suicide affects people and their families from all countries and context and at all ages. Suicide accounts for more than one in every 100 deaths. Mental disorders are the leading cause of years lived with disability. In both males and females, anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are the most common.

Mental health problems are experienced over the life-course : Over the course of our lives, we find ourselves that our mental health continuum fluctuates in response to changing situations and stressors.

Childhood: Our prenatal environment, infancy and early childhood can set the tone for the rest of our lives. Most mental health conditions in adults have their onset by adolescence. Adverse experiences during early childhood including violence, neglect or death of a loved one can disrupt early brain development and compromise nervous system for life.

Adolescence: It is a developmentally sensitive time for a person’s mental health, a crucial period for developing the social and emotional skills, habits and coping strategies that matters mental health. Many risk behaviours such as use of substances start during adolescence and can be particularly detrimental to mental health.

Adulthood: Family building can be a risky time for mental health. Working life can also be difficult. Negative working environments are associated with a greater risk of developing depression, anxiety and work-related stress, unemployment and loss of employment are known risk factors for suicide attempts.

Old Age: Earlier negative life experiences can take a toll on elderly mental health. Loss of functional ability, musculoskeletal pain, bereavement and isolation can all result in loneliness and psychological distress.

How common is mental illness?

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, an estimated 970 million people in the world were living with a mental disorder i.e. 13% of the global population. This figure rose significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In both males and females, anxiety and depressive disorders are the two most common mental disorders.

Around 8% of the world’s young children (5-9 yrs) and 14% of the world’s adolescents (10-19yrs) live with a mental disorder. Idiopathic developmental disorders are the most common among young children affecting 1 in 50 children aged less than 5 years and autism spectrum disorder being the second most prevalent. Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder and conduct disorder are common among younger boys especially 10-14 years.

13% of the older population live with a mental disorder mainly depressive and anxiety disorder. People with severe mental health conditions die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population.

Gaps in public mental health

o INFORMATION GAP - Incomplete data, Insufficient research
o GOVERNANCE GAP - Inadequate policies, plans and laws, Misplaced priorities
o RESOURCES GAP - Scant spending, Lack of essential medicines, Scarce workforce
o SERVICES GAP - Poor treatment coverage, Limited range and quality of services.

STIGMA AGAINST MENTAL HEALTH

All over the world, people living with mental health conditions are the subject of deep rooted stigma and discrimination. In many communities, mental health conditions are not considered to be health issues, but are seen as a weakness of character, punishment for immoral behaviour or the result of illicit drug taking or supernatural forces.

They are commonly assumed to be lazy, weak, unintelligent or difficult when in fact they are more at the risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people. People living with mental health conditions are often treated with fear, shame and contempt.

Stigma even extends to working in mental health care and can contribute to staff shortages in mental health systems. People will often choose to suffer mental distress without relief, rather than risk the discrimination that comes with accessing mental health services.

TIME FOR CHANGE
TOO MANY PEOPLE LIVING WITH MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS ARE NOT GETTING THE CARE THEY NEED AND DESERVE


For most countries and communities, mental health conditions continue to exact a heavy toll on people’s lives, while mental health systems and services remain ill-equipped to meet people’s need. All over the world mental health receives just a tiny fraction of health budgets.

BUT with right support, most people with severe mental health conditions can function at a very high social and economic level, maintaining excellent relationships and functioning well. NOW, the need for wide ranging transformation towards mental health for all is indisputable and urgent.

Government needs to step up their commitment and action to achieve a transformation that can change the course for mental health.

We should make this world a better place where mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where high quality, culturally appropriate, acceptable and affordable community based mental health care is available to everyone and anyone who needs it and where people living with mental health conditions can participate fully in society free from stigma, discrimination or abuse.

LOOKING AFTER OUR MENTAL HEALTH

o Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated: A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve our energy and focus throughout the day. Limit caffeinated beverages
o Exercise regularly: Just 30 mins of walking every day can help boost our mood and improve our health.
o Make sleep a priority: Stick to a schedule and make sure you are getting enough sleep, reduce blue light exposure from phone or computer before bedtime.
o Try a relaxing activity: Incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation and breathing exercise in your daily routine
o Practice gratitude: Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Write them down at night or replay them in your mind.
o Allocate time for working and time for resting
o Make time for doing things you enjoy
o Minimize newsfeeds
o Stay connected: Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.
o Limit screen time


* Dr N Heramani / Dr Seram Chaoba Devi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writers are 1. Professor and HOD 2. Senior Resident, Department of Psychiatry, Shija Academy of Health Sciences
This article was webcasted on October 06 2022.



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