Today is World Mental Day. The Day provides 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.
It is also to empower people suffering from mental health problems and encourage them to open up about it.
This year, the theme for World Mental Health Day is: “Young people and mental health in a changing world.”
It focuses on adolescents and the mental health problems that they deal with.
According to the World Health Organisation, there is now a growing recognition of importance of helping young people build mental resilience at an early age.
This helps adolescents to cope with challenges of today’s world in a better way. It is estimated that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated.
The major cause of mental health among adolescents is harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds, and depression is the third.
While many people have an exciting time in their early years of adulthood, for some people, this time may cause a lot of stress. If mental health problems among teenagers are not managed and recognised, it can lead to mental illness.
Increased use of online technologies among teenagers has led to additional pressures.
This is one of the biggest reasons why the young are vulnerable to mental distress and illness.
Prevention begins with awareness and gaining better understanding of early warning and signs of mental illnesses.
Awareness can primarily be increased in educational institutions like schools and colleges. Schools can also work towards providing children with psychological support.
Also, the healthcare professionals need to be trained to detect and manage mental health disorders in a better way.
Investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, and evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is also essential.
This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students.
Meanwhile, a report published in the Lancet Medical Journal says there has been a collective failure to address the rise in mental health issues in almost every country in the world.
The report suggests that more than a billion people are affected by mental health and substance use disorders worldwide.
The researchers say this could cause the global economy some sixteen trillion dollars by 2030. They warn that in many countries, people routinely face abuse or detention from mental health issues and few get the full support they need.
In a related development, the Communication and Research official of ‘Friends of Mental Health,’ Jennifer Akumoah is calling on government to quickly push for the passage of the Legislative Instrument(LI), that would support the enforcement of the Mental Health Act passed in 2012.
The Act enables the provision and creation of modern and community-based mental health systems, and the protection of the rights of persons with mental disorders.