Millennium Post

Mind the matter!

Mind the matter!

In what continues to be a stigma across many social domains, conversations around mental health are more important than ever to create awareness among people for themselves and for others. The present times call for propagating a culture of better mental health and what might be termed emotional hygiene. Way back in 1954, Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first director-general of WHO stated that "without mental health there can be no true physical health". It needs to change that the subject of mental health has been resigned to a taboo status by most people and that individuals, particularly those who need it most, hesitate talking about it and compounding their situation further. World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 every year with the holistic objective of raising awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of it. With the rise in awareness, however, a common person acquires information about mental health but is equipped with only a partial picture. Stigmatisation and hesitations surrounding mental health, particularly illnesses, are significant factors contributing to the development of myths about mental illnesses and matters pertaining to it any manner. A common misconception is that people living with mental health issues are incapable of performing functions of a normal life or are dangerous. As a result, they are virtually excluded from a regular normal social setting. There is no underestimating the value and importance of mental health at both individual as well as community levels. An incompatible family member or a difficult co-worker both may contribute to mental discomfort and trouble in different ways. What must be understood and acknowledged is that the purview of mental health is so wide that it exists with every individual and has as many aspects and dimensions with reference to interaction with other individuals and the external environment. Once in a year, on October 10, the commemorative day is an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. World Mental Health Day 2019 has a special focus on prevention of suicide. Fact states that every 40 seconds, someone commits suicide. With respect to India, WHO data reveals that 2.2 lakh deaths from suicide happen in a year—the theme for World Mental Health Day's this year is thus even more relevant for India. Most Indians lost to suicide are young adults between age 15-39. With more informed awareness increasing among people, there needs to be some institutional method of redress in place such as coverage in health insurance packages. Further, just about 6,000 psychiatrists for 1.35 billion people are available in India which has a very low ratio of mental health experts. Mental health is a key part of the SDGs but with just 0.3 psychiatrists, 0.12 psychologists and 0.07 social workers per 100,000 Indians, India paints a bleak picture of mental health.

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