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Sunday, February 28, 2021

World Mental Health day: Let’s not forget that there is no health without mental health

2020’s World Mental Health day comes at a very crucial time. There has been an example of the effect on people vastly due to the globally spread pandemic, not only by health but also mentally. The COVID-19 has brought several challenges on many fronts. The health care workers in hospitals, nurses, doctors, many organizations performing essential deliveries to poor and unresourceful areas are working in tough conditions. Students find it really difficult to learn and adapt their curriculum as the sudden change in their learning pattern has shifted to online classes. A large number of people, from all classes, are exposed to fragile lifestyle settings with very little protection from this deadly virus.

COVID-19 has not only affected people, causing severe health damage, but those who aren’t infected physically are already suffering mentally due to the unexpectedly extended lockdown. People with pre-existing mental illnesses are going through a disastrous time during this pandemic. Many people are live in fear that there might come a day when they’ll lose a loved one, and they won’t get the opportunity of a proper farewell. The consequences are many and the economic condition of the ongoing health crisis has already become evident.

Due to this acute slump that spread globally, many organizations have let go of their staff in an effort to save their business and firms with limited employees on 30-50% reduced payroll. This has led to an extremely high level of stress, which has resulted in an increased number of people turning up at hospital emergencies with cardiac arrests and other cardiovascular problems. Not only this but the anxious need to have a resourceful house, people have crowded in front of the malls and local grocery shops which went completely opposite to the need of maintaining social distancing.

Given the nature of this chaos, it is obvious that there will be a need for mental health support and psychological evaluation in the next few months. The mental health landscape has been diversely altered worldwide and there is a dire need to take efforts in rehabilitating those under serious mental depression. Investment in mental health has always been suboptimal, to be honest, the figures are quite disheartening. Lack of funding in the area of mental health can lead to the risk of a global collapse of mental health systems. There was never importance displayed to the people globally that mental investment can be a positive approach in establishing a good lifestyle. This is why one of the goals this year’s World Mental Health Day is to increase the investment in the realm of Mental Health.

In order to encourage public action globally, a World Mental Health Day campaign was started in September. Director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, recently stated: “World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for the world to come together and begin redressing the historic neglect of mental health. We are already seeing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social, and economic consequences will be far-reaching.”

The provisions of mental health needs have remained unaddressed majorly, in arrears to the scale and nature of the problem. The efforts to change this have been hampered due to under-funding and lack of investment in mental health to recognize its importance. Only 2% of their health budgets is being spent in mental health in many countries around the world on average. International funding has never exceeded 1% of all development funding for mental and physical health. This calculation is observed, that despite the fact, every $1 invested in the treatment for common mental disorders, the returns are $4 in terms of enhanced health and productivity.

Let’s look into what is happening in the 2020 World Mental Health Day:

There is a collaboration happening between the World Health Organization (WHO), United for Global Mental Health, and the World Federation for Mental Health in order to encourage people worldwide to support the global movement that calls for greater investment in Mental Health.

  • The #MoveForMentalHealth challenge is to ask people around the world to post a video showing what are their activities to support mental health well-being. Now, this can be anything that they love to do, like, dancing, singing, cooking, painting, or something they like doing to be posted on social media with the hashtag #MoveForMentalHealth.
  • The WHO is launching a digital stress management guide on the WhatsApp, which includes short guidelines and exercises to help reduce stress.
  • Also, Facebook Messenger is launching a new sticker pack designed with the support of WHO, in order to facilitate conversations around mental health.
  • A 24-hour live stream was organized on the 9th of October, featuring experienced people in the field of mental wellness and influencers from the groups in civil societies, being already active in 19 countries through the Speak Your Mind campaign. Global partner organizations are also conducting hour-long sessions on specific themes like mental health and young and old people, mental health, and the LGBTQ community.
  • The World Health Organization, for the first time ever, will host a global online advocacy Event on Mental Health on 10th October, today. The WHO will be showcasing the work their staff is doing across the world to reduce mental illness and the harmful effects of alcohol and drug consumption. The Director-General of the WHO is joined by world leaders and mental health experts to discuss their commitment to mental health and what more measures can be taken to tackle mental health issues.

According to a report by the National Health Portal, in India, many mental illness problems which mostly begin at the age of 14 due to depression, drug abuse, and alcohol consumption go undetected and untreated.

It is an ambition to make sure that this World Mental Health Day should encourage all of us to do something life-achieving. As being responsible individuals: We should take concrete actions to support our own mental health and support our family and friends who are making an effort to cope with their mental issues. Employers in their organizations should make sure that they take tangible steps to ease employee-wellness programs. There should be a commitment by the Governments around the world to establish an enhancement in the existing mental healthcare services. The media should take the responsibility of spreading awareness about mental health as it can play a pivotal role. Journalists, editors, columnists, and commentators should just automatically assume it to be their responsibility to debunk common myths and false beliefs about mental health. This can turn out to be highly effective in a very positive way if conversations around mental health are widely encouraged, and practices are adopted in creating awareness about its issues.

Although public conversations have been extremely acknowledging the importance of mental health, the under-investment still stands as a problem. There needs to be a systemic effort in order to build mental health systems catering to a diverse population. National Mental Health Survey of India, identified a 70-92% gap in the treatment of mental health. The numbers are disturbing for a country’s population being 1.3 billion. With people lacking being to access a good-quality mental health service, investment into the dominion of mental health is the most important need in the world today.

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