Greater Investment and Access for Everyone, Everywhere.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health but it’s not so always for us. There is a lot of stigma and discrimination attached to people suffering from mental illness. Negative attitudes and perspectives prevalent in the society make it difficult for the people to access and get adequate help and support, when needed.
Research has shown that mental health is the least talked about topic in developing nations; contributing to delay in treatment. It also reduces the chances of getting good care by the patients who may need it urgently.
WHO claims that mental health is a growing public concern. It is a disease burden worldwide that has poor network coverage in terms of awareness and accessibility. The major problems plaguing the society in developed and developing nations are bipolar disorder, various forms of neuroses, like generalized anxiety, phobia, PTSD, and OCD. Moreover, cases of severe depression, suicide, and substance abuse are also in the list. These diseases are crippling the society by affecting people of all age groups.
Often the global statistics are poorly defined because the stigma and negative perspectives associated with mental illness makes it difficult for openness and unashamed conversation.
In this regard, World Mental Health Day is a global initiative undertaken for mental health awareness and education by the ‘World Federation for Mental health’. It was first started on 10th October, 1992. Thereafter, every year this day marks support and awareness programs on mental health and emotional wellness. The significance of the day is approved worldwide to mobilize efforts and resources to support mental illness and restore psychological wellbeing of people under emotional and psychological distress.
The theme chosen for Mental Health day, 2020 is “Mental Health for All – Greater Investment and Access for Everyone, Everywhere”.
As the global pandemic ‘Covid-19’ has already left an unprecedented mark on the mental health of millions of people, the 2020 theme holds a special significance.
We know that Covid-19 has impacted the global health care sector immensely; there seems to be no respite in the coming future. The economic impact has left so many people jobless. There is a constant rise in levels of anxiety, fear due to social isolation and future uncertainty.
According to WHO data (2018), one person is committing suicide in every 40 seconds. This figure speaks all about the current status of mental health scenario globally. Thus, greater treatment availability, affordable treatment, openness to disease control and prevention has become the need of the hour. Mental health needs to be put in the priority list of the overall health and wellness programs than ever before.
This year’s theme is an opportunity to bring in a massive scale of investment in mental health awareness programs. The motive is to cover large number of people across the low and medium income economies; where infrastructure and mindset of the people are not conducive for treatment of mental illness.
In these nations, there is a limited access to quality and affordable counseling services. It may be because of stigma and discrimination. People lack psychological safety to open up about their illness or the illness of their loved ones. As such, a large number of people suffer silently from mental health issues and as a result go to a point of no recovery.
A serious commitment is needed to gear up infrastructure and cost friendly services in terms of online counseling, tele-counseling by government and private bodies on an urgent basis.
The World Mental Health day campaign will facilitate mobilization of resources to build up centers for one-on-one online counseling. This will be a healthy initiative especially given the pandemic times; where social distancing and isolation has become important in our daily lives. People can discuss issues online and can get advice from trained professionals in the field.
The call of time is to undertake mental health support schemes for employees who are working virtually from home and for those who are jobless. It will help the student community who are new to the world of online learning and are going through stress of an unknown future. Suicide prevention can be undertaken by teaching healthy ways of dealing with stress and depression. Thus, the idea is to foster a positive mindset and provide emotional support, whenever wherever.
There is an increased need for open and unashamed conversation regarding emotional problems, so that the distressed person doesn’t feel alone, helpless, and isolated. Community outreach programs and awareness initiative through videos and write-ups should be promoted through social media. By this the message of “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” can be easily propagated to a large section of the community.
The time has come to kick start large scale initiatives and put our words into actions. This year, the stage is set to call upon everyone to talk about their emotional wellness. The general attitude of the community needs to be changed to bring in positive changes in this regard.
You can be a part of the conversation and ask all your mental health and well-being related questions on Rich Psych’s Mental Health Forum.
A growing access to online therapy needs to be undertaken
In recent times, there is a wave of online services going around and gained acceptance in fostering mental wellness. This arrangement has been found by many to be user friendly and cost effective.
The major benefits of online and tele-counseling are:
· Convenient access – Online counseling can be done from anywhere. You can avail health and wellness services; even while continuing with your daily job. It is flexible with regard to time and availability. A regular visit to the counselor’s office is not needed. Time is no longer a constraint.
· Flexible therapeutic relationship – The relationship between the client and the counselor is based on mutual trust and confidentiality. You can be in your authentic self and still experience empathetic connection with the counselor.
· Satisfaction – Research reports confirm that people feel comfortable and easy going in virtual sessions because they feel psychologically safe to discuss personal issues. There is no fear of getting judged or misunderstood; as can happen in an ‘in-person’ interaction.
· Cost friendly – Tele- counseling is cost effective because clients can connect from anywhere, anytime according to their convenience. All they need, is a phone and internet connection that has become quite economic these days.
· Easy access thus wider reach – Online and tele-therapy is good for people who have difficulty in accessing care due to remote location, health or transportation issues. As it’s a virtual process, wider reach is possible. People can avail services from far off places easily. Moreover, this is a convenient method for people who have busy schedules but need emotional support for dealing with life’s issues
Greater access, widespread reach will help to prioritize mental wellness. The increased access to mental health services is the need of the hour, then ever before. The aftermath of Covid-19 will be immense. The global job loss, social distancing, and community depression and anxiety during these uncertain times needs to be taken seriously.
Millions of people are suffering from acute anxiety, fear, and depression. Though, sudden positive changes may not come; but a continuous process of mental health awareness, campaigning at community level needs to be organized to connect lots of people under the wellness program.
Access to emotional and psychological support programs is a major area to work on and invest in towards promoting psychological well-being of people around the world.
Read more about what top activists, doctors, psychologists, have to say about what more can be done to increase mental health awareness.