Need to talk about mental health care

ABU DHABI, The World Mental Health Day 2018 passed off quietly on Wednesday with not much people talking about how important it is to share, care and seek support in these days of increasing stress caused by technology, environment and other social issues, a UAE newspaper has observed.

The English language daily ‘Gulf Today’ said in its today’s editorial that a startling warning has been issued by the “Lancet Commission” report that mental health disorders are on the rise in every country in the world and could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 if a collective failure to respond is not addressed.

The report by 28 global specialists in psychiatry, public health and neuroscience, as well as mental health patients and advocacy groups, has distinctly highlighted that the growing crisis could cause lasting harm to people, communities and economies worldwide.

The world community cannot afford to take this lightly considering the magnitude of the challenge. Efforts should be intensified to end the stigma that prevents people from seeking help for their mental health.

Mental illness has also risen dramatically worldwide in the past 25 years, partly due to societies ageing and more children surviving into adolescence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 300 million people worldwide have depression and 50 million have dementia. Schizophrenia is estimated to affect 23 million people, and bipolar disorder around 60 million.

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has taken the correct step by naming a minister for suicide prevention as part of a new push to tackle mental health issues. Incidentally, there are more than 4,500 self-inflicted deaths every year in England, and suicide remains the leading cause of death among men under the age of 45.

The importance of talking as the first step towards getting help should be reinforced in the community. As experts point out, prevention begins with being aware of and understanding the early warning symptoms of mental illness. Parents and teachers can help build life skills of children and adolescents to help them cope with everyday challenges at home and at school.

The Lancet Commission report is absolutely right in calling for a human rights-based approach to ensure that people with mental health conditions are not denied fundamental human rights, including access to employment, education and other core life experiences.

Source: Emirates News Agency