“You may have to fight a battle more than once.” – Margaret Thatcher
For most persons today, the battle of mental health is never-ending, self-consuming and isolating.
The world is celebrating ‘Mental Health Day’ today and is a reminder that mental illness is as real as any physical illness in the current scenario.
According to Nepal’s first National Mental Health Survey close to 2.2 million Nepalis between the ages of 16-40 years suffer from mental health issues. What is more alarming is that there are increasing instances of mental illness among children, say psychiatrists.
“A child can suffer immense stress due to small reasons like getting scolded or bullied in school, disputes between parents and even day-to-day pressure like forcing for a haircut,” says Dr Arjun Raj Kunwar, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Kanti Children’s Hospital.
“Since children cannot express their mental problems, it remains unidentified and affects them more as they grow older,” he adds.
It has been observed that mental health issues start before the age of 14 and 75 percent youth begin to realize their issues even before they turn 24 years.
It’s really alarming that the country is not equipped to handle the rising number of mental health instances!
“There are only 0.58 beds per 100,000 population in Nepal to avail mental health services while hospitals providing mental health services are only available in urban areas,” says Dr Basudev Karki, Psychiatrist, Patan Mental Hospital.
“In a country where only few have access to health services, the awareness level about mental health issues is rare. Similarly, lack of mental health centers for children is another challenge,” adds Kunwar.
However, the Nepal Government as always is working towards this cause and has allocated a budget of 4.29 percent of its total FY 2018-19 budget for health and population.
Unfortunately, the State Minister for Health and Population Dr. Surendra Kumar Yadav reveals that the said budget is not sufficient even for the provision of basic health services, leave alone mental health.
Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World
This year the World Health Organization (WHO) is celebrating the World Mental Health Day 2018 with the theme ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’.
The theme seeks to draw worldwide attention to the increasing of mental health cases among youth and children who battle many challenges in the form of changing schools, starting university, leaving home, starting a new job, technology addiction or aftermaths of terrifying incidents such as war, natural disasters and epidemics. These instances can trigger huge amounts of stress and apprehension and if not addressed in time, they can lead to mental illness.
Addressing the Crisis
WHO identifies building mental resilience and increasing awareness as the two best approaches to dealing with this situation.
To begin with, evidence proves that promotion and protection of adolescent health brings benefits both in the short and long run. The better the efforts are in supporting young minds to cope with the challenges of today’s world, the better the ecosystem of healthy citizens that contributes to global welfare will be.
Recognizing and understanding early signs & symptoms of mental illness is crucial in addressing issues faced by youth and children. Parents and teachers can equip such children and youth with life skills to help them deal with the challenges of home and school.
Psychological support at school and other social setups can additionally uplift the situation. Moreover, increased training of health workers can be instrumental in identifying and handling mental health disorders.
Finally, government investments and involvement of society, health and education sectors would play an important role in creating wholesome mental health programs to make youth and children aware of mental well-being and extend peer-support to create a healthier environment.
World Federation of Mental Health
The World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) is the regulatory body for mental health and the issues surrounding it.
It was formed in 1948 to prevent mental & emotional disorders, provide proper treatment & care and promote mental health for sufferers across the globe.
Constant care, boosted confidence and moral support from societies, parents, teachers and the government can help create a better future for the future world citizens.