It cannot be stressed enough. Mental health is health. WHO defines Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Recent years have seen a spike in mental illness, but many mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, if identified timely.
The latest figures predict that one in four people will suffer from some mental illness in any given year.
Even prior to the pandemic, an estimated one in eight persons globally were living with a mental disorder.
With the advent of the global crisis in the wake of the Corona pandemic, a staggering 84 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced during 2021.
To say the least, mental health of billions of people worldwide was undermined.
A staggering 25 per cent or more spike in both anxiety and depressive disorders was estimated in the first year of the pandemic itself.
On the other end of the spectrum is the issue of disrupted ongoing mental health services and even further widening of the treatment gap.
Hence, the WHO theme for the 2022 WMHD Campaign: “Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority”.
The idea behind is simple. It seeks to bring all the stakeholders - patients, their families, various governments, employers and employees, students and pensioners, the young and the old alike to come together to recognise progress in the field of Mental Health. And, to be vocal about what we need to do to ensure that Mental Health and Well-Being becomes a Global Priority for all.
Mental Health - The Bottomline
For 70 odd years, year after year, across varied themes, the bottomline has always been to make sure that mental health is treated on a par with physical health.
Mental health problems exist in our lives, families, workplaces and communities, impacting everyone. We must do as much as possible to prevent mental ill-health – as individuals and as a society.
Each year, the World Mental Health day serves as a call for national and local governments to prioritise reducing the factors known to pose a risk to people’s mental health, enhancing those known to protect it and creating the conditions needed for people to thrive.
World Mental Health Day is also a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.
There are some 300 odd mental disorders under the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
As many as 970 million people worldwide in 2017 had either a mental health or substance use-related disorder. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability amongst all the health issues, put together. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely, even up to 20 years earlier due to preventable physical conditions.
Despite all the advances and awareness, persons with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma.
Many mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, if identified timely. Like the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine. Yet the gap between people needing care and those with access to care is huge. Effective treatment coverage remains extremely low.
Need for Increased Investment
Increased investment is required on all fronts: for mental health awareness to increase understanding and reduce stigma; for efforts to increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments; and for research to identify new treatments and improve existing treatments for all mental disorders.
In 2019, WHO launched the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health (2019-2023): Universal Heath Coverage for Mental Health. The motto: to ensure access to quality and affordable care for mental health conditions in 12 priority countries to 100 million more people.
In 2022, WHO also launched the World Mental Health Report: Transforming Mental Health for all. Ironically, on the home front, an amount of Rs 670 crore has been allocated to Mental health in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's budget of Rs 83,000 crore – that is, a grand 0.8 per cent of the health budget, which is similar to the previous years.
Headlines scream that Mental health deserves at least more than 1 per cent of the total health budget! But of course, to no avail, alas. The 2016 National Mental Health Survey found that 70-80 per cent of people with mental illness received no treatment.
A Lancet study estimated a 35 per cent increase in mental health problems in India. UNICEF reported that nearly 14 per cent of adolescents were depressed. Incidentally, even the government’s own report on suicides, as published by the National Crime Records Bureau, showed that suicides increased by 10 per cent in 2020.
This World Mental Health Day 2022, let’s help ourselves with these few evidence-backed tips to look after our own mental health.
Protecting our mental health need not be complicated. If we included mental wellness as a part of our daily self-care chores, say like brushing our teeth, it actually can be much easier than we apprehend.
Simple activities can help us feel good and are averting crucial future Mental Health issues. It could even be fun for al we know:
1. Getting close to nature
2. Acknowledging and managing one’s own emotions
3. Talking kindly to ourselves
4. Ventilation or talking to someone we trust
5. Alcohol and drugs should not be used to self-medicate
6. Apprehensive about trying the sleeping aids or anti-anxiety medication your doctor suggested? That harmless glass of wine that you occasionally sip could be way more toxic.
7. Getting our finances sorted
8. There’s no substitute to 7-8 hours of nighttime sleep
9. Practising Kindness and gratitude
10. Physical activity
11. Mindful eating
12. Simplicity, curiosity and open-mindedness
13. Having plans or better, a bucket-list!
It is totally ok not to be ok. Just don’t give up. There may be a silver lining after all. A very happy World Mental Health Day to all.