Mental Health Day – 2015: Bringing Dignity to those suffering from Mental Health Problems

By: Rajesh G. Konnur

 Every year, mental health fraternity celebrates World Mental Health Day on October 10. The theme of this year includes “Dignity in Mental Health.”

Mental illness is still considered as a stigma in our society. The individual suffering from mental illness lacks socio-cultural rights of a dignified living in the society due to illness. The public image of viewing the mentally ill is very downtrodden due to multiple causes. So, now the need is destigmatization and humanization of affected individuals. World Health Organization (WHO) is immensely contributing towards mental health in all spheres including treatment and socio-political affairs. This year, WHO is involved in creation of awareness of what can be done to ensure that people suffering from mental problems can continue to live with dignity, through implementation of human rights oriented policy and law, training of health professionals, development of respect for informed consent to treatment and public information campaigns.

The major objectives of the plan of World Health Organization are to:

a) Strengthen effective leadership and goverence for mental health.

b) Provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community – based settings.

c) Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health

(d) Strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.

This plan recognizes the essential role of mental health in achieving health for all people. It is based on a life course approach. It aims to achieve equity through universal health coverage. The actions include:

a) More effective leadership and governance for mental health.

b) The provision of comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community based settings.

c) Implementation of strategies for promotion and prevention and strengthened information systems, evidence and research.

In India, 20% of the population will suffer from some type of mental illness by 2020. We are woefully underequipped to handle mental health issues on such a large scale. Currently, we have only 3,500 psychiatrists and low number of allied mental health manpower for the 20 million Indians suffering from mental illness.  This means that there is one psychiatrist for more than ten thousand people, which is not even a proverbial drop in the ocean.

Our aim is to spread awareness about mental health issues all over the world. Our elders are surrounded with stigma, isolation and violation of basic human rights and a dignified living. A lack of support, leadership and diminishing health makes them more vulnerable to violate basic rights. The one thing we seem to lack as a community today is empathy. This world Mental Health Day let us make some time out to think, to feel and most importantly to live a dignified life without violating universal rights.

About the Author:

The author Dr Rajesh G Konnur is a reputed writer and an Associate Professor at Kurji Holy Family College of Nursing, Patna, Bihar, India.

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