In today’s world, our busy routine is one of the main reasons for our declining physical health. Our daily encounters and experiences inflict invisible but profound impacts on our mind. These effects are deep-rooted and influence our thoughts, and hence our reactions to the situations that we face. If not controlled in time, these thoughts can result in a range of emotions. For example, emotions such as happiness, excitement, elation are associated with pleasant circumstances. Whereas, sadness, anger, nervousness, are experienced if the conditions have been unpleasant. The negative emotions slowly progress into depression and anxiety, and ultimately result into more serious mental and physical ailments.
To express their frustration, few people tend to self-harm by substance use. This self-harming may or may not be with the intension of suicide. The intensity and severity of the substance use disorder to self-harm, is higher in people having history of injected drugs, high-risk sexual behaviour and Cannabis dependence. A study has been carried out at the Department of Psychiatry and National Drug Dependence treatment centre by Rishi Gupta et. al. on 300 patients. The analysis revealed significantly greater proportion of younger, unmarried/separated, unemployed, drugs and nicotine dependent patients, have a history of self-harm. Poor psychological support and unemployment are highly associated with a greater risk of suicide. The graph below shows the global suicide deaths by age and sex in the year of 2016.
Worldwide, approximately 16% of the people are suffering from mental disorders. Many of these conditions have, or may progress into more serious illnesses and disabilities. The most susceptible age groups for mental disorders are teenagers and young people in their late twenties. Adolescence and adulthood are the most dynamic periods in life. Excessive competition and peer pressure have suppressed our ability to face and adjust to these life transitions.
Thus, mental conditions have become more dangerous as they do not exhibit any easily detectable symptoms. Also, diagnosis of these conditions requires careful observation of one’s behaviour and connecting them to the surrounding circumstances. Thus, although mental health should be given maximum priority, it is neglected and ignored in majority of the cases. Thus, depression, anxiety, rare and critical physical ailments and suicides have become rampant in the common households, today.
Hence, several programs have been initiated to raise awareness about these conditions and educate the global population about the importance of a healthy mind. Since 1982, the Government of India has implemented the ‘National Mental Health Program (NMHP)’. The aim of this program is to ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all. Further, the program aims to integrate mental health care into primary health care, in order to proceed towards community health care. The government has passed the ‘Mental Healthcare Act 2017’, to strengthen mental healthcare services. It has also revealed the National Mental Health Policy in October 2014.
Another significant effort has been the celebration of the ‘World Mental Health Day’ by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), since 1992. Over the years, the WFMH has started focusing on one crucial difficulty in mental health as the annual theme for this day. Till now, the WFMH has addressed numerous such topics such as the young people and mental health in a changing world, depression: a global crisis, mental health and chronic physical illnesses. Some other themes included building awareness and reducing risk of mental illness and suicides and the relationship between physical and mental health: co-occurring disorders. Finally, the celebration of this day has also focused on mental health and human rights, children and mental health, women and mental health etc. The ultimate goal is to lead the global population towards a happy, content, and a fit mind.
The theme for the ‘World Mental Health Day, 2019’ is ‘Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention’. Since a majority of the acquired mental illnesses lead to suicides, awareness about the connection between them is important.
According to the WHO, in India, the age-adjusted suicide rate per 100,000 population is 21.1. It has been estimated that the economic loss due to mental illnesses in India will reach to about 1.03 trillions dollars by the year 2030. The mental health workforce in India (per 100,000 population) comprises of psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07). Thus, considering the current gap between the population and the percentage of mental health service providers, it is imperative that sincere efforts are dedicated towards setting up further mental health facilities in India. Time has come to establish additional networks that may offer assistance to those afflicted with mental disorders, which will prevent the loss of numerous precious and young lives.
Editors: Dr. Ratnesh Jain, Dr. Prajakta Dandekar -Jain