World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organisation recognizes World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. October 10, 1992 was the first time the World Mental Health Day was observed in over 150+ countries. It was the Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter whose relentless efforts led to the observance. The day used to be celebrated to educate, and remove the general problems arising from mental illness until 1993. It was only in 1994, that the event began to follow a theme-based approach. For the first time in that year, the event was commemorated on the theme of ‘Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World’. It was suggested by the Secretary General Eugene .

Importance of World Mental Health Day

The day is important in the medical world as it aims at improving the mental health issues of people by using various medications and counselling and other important services. In many parts of the world, the preparation for this day is done beforehand and some countries even hold workshops and courses that run for a week or sometimes months. Moreover, this day allows people to speak up about mental health in general and breaks the stigma of society. It is important to know that anyone can face mental issues, but the right diagnosis and counselling can yield positive results in a short period of time.

What is Mental Health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source:

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

  • People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder.
  • Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. However, this link also works in the other direction.
  • Factors in people’s lives, interpersonal connections, and physical factors can all contribute to mental health disruptions. Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life.
  • Doing this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
  • Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine. Although the term mental health is in common use, many conditions that doctors recognize as psychological disorders have physical roots.
  • The WHO stress that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.” Peak mental health is about not only avoiding active conditions but also looking after ongoing wellness and happiness.
  • They also emphasize that preserving and restoring mental health is crucial on an individual basis, as well as throughout different communities and societies the world over.

Common Mental Health Disorders

Anxiety disorders – According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety Disorders are the most common type of mental illness. People with these conditions have severe fear or anxiety, which relates to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety.

Panic disorders – People with a panic disorder experience regular panic attacks, which involve sudden, overwhelming terror or a sense of imminent disaster and death.

Phobias – A phobia is a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation. It is a type of anxiety disorder. A person with a phobia either tries to avoid the thing that triggers the fear, or endures it with great anxiety and distress.

There are Different types of Phobia:

  • Simple phobias: These might involve a disproportionate fear of specific objects, scenarios, or animals. A fear of spiders is a common example.
  • Social phobia: Sometimes known as social anxiety, this is a fear of being subject to the judgment of others. People with social phobia often restrict their exposure to social environments.
  • Agoraphobia: This term refers to a fear of situations in which getting away may be difficult, such as being in an elevator or moving train. Many people misunderstand this phobia as a fear of being outside.

Phobias are deeply personal, and doctors do not know every type. There could be thousands of phobias, and what might seem unusual to one person may be a severe problem that dominates daily life for another.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – People with OCD have obsessions and compulsions. In other words, they experience constant, stressful thoughts and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, such as hand washing.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – PTSD can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a deeply stressful or traumatic event. During this type of event, the person thinks that their life or other people’s lives are in danger. They may feel afraid or that they have no control over what is happening. These sensations of trauma and fear may then contribute to PTSD.

Mood disorders – People may also refer to mood disorders as affective disorders or depressive disorders. People with these conditions have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania, which is a period of high energy and elation, or depression.

Examples of mood disorders include:

  • Major depression: An individual with major depression experiences a constant low mood and loses interest in activities and events that they previously enjoyed. They can feel prolonged periods of sadness or extreme sadness.
  • Bipolar disorder: A person with bipolar disorder experiences unusual changes.Trusted Source in their mood, energy levels, levels of activity, and ability to continue with daily life. Periods of high mood are known as manic phases, while depressive phases bring on low mood.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – Reduced daylight triggers during the fall, winter, and early spring months trigger this type of major depression . It is most common in countries far from the equator.

Schizophrenia Disorders – Mental health authorities are still trying to determine whether schizophrenia is a single disorder or a group of related illnesses. It is a highly complex condition. Signs of schizophrenia typically develop between the ages of 16 and 30 years. The individual will have thoughts that appear fragmented, and they may also find it hard to process information. Schizophrenia has negative and positive symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders, and hallucinations. Negative symptoms include withdrawal, lack of motivation, and a flat or inappropriate mood.

Mental Health Promotion and Protection

An environment that respects and protects basic civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights is fundamental to mental health. Without the security and freedom provided by these rights, it is difficult to maintain a high level of mental health.

Specific ways to promote mental health include:

  • Early childhood interventions (e.g. providing a stable environment that is sensitive to children’s health and nutritional needs, with protection from threats, opportunities for early learning, and interactions that are responsive, emotionally supportive and developmentally stimulating).
  • Support to children (e.g. life skills programmes, child and youth development programmes); Socio-economic empowerment of women (e.g. improving access to education and microcredit schemes).
  • Social support for elderly populations (e.g. befriending initiatives, community and day centers for the aged); Programmes targeted at vulnerable people, including minorities, indigenous people, migrants and people affected by conflicts and disasters (e.g. psycho-social interventions after disasters).
  • Mental health promotional activities in schools (e.g. programmes involving supportive ecological changes in schools). Mental Health interventions at work (e.g. stress prevention programmes). Housing policies (e.g. housing improvement) Violence prevention programmes (e.g. reducing availability of alcohol and access to arms).
  • Community development programmes (e.g. integrated rural development). Poverty reduction and social protection for the poor.

Early Signs

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Eating too much or too little.
  • Feeling hopeless.
  • Having consistently low energy.
  • Using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently.
  • Displaying negative emotions.
  • Being confused.
  • Being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal.
  • Having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly.
  • Thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others.
  • Hearing voices.
  • Experiencing delusions.

Treatment

In the context of national efforts to develop and implement mental health policy, It is vital to not only protect and promote the mental well-being of its citizens, but also address the needs of persons with defined mental disorders. Knowledge of what to do about the escalating burden of mental disorders has improved substantially over the past decade. There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating both the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of key interventions for priority mental disorders in countries at different levels of economic development.

Examples of interventions that are cost-effective, feasible, and affordable include:

  • Treatment of depression with psychological treatment and, for moderate to severe cases, antidepressant medicines.
  • Treatment of psychosis with anti-psychotic medicines and psychosocial support.
  • Taxation of alcoholic beverages and restriction of their availability and marketing.
  • A range of effective measures also exists for the prevention of suicide, prevention and treatment of mental disorders in children, prevention and treatment of dementia, and treatment of substance-use disorders.
  • The mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) has produced evidence based guidance for non-specialists to enable them to better identify and manage a range of priority mental health conditions.