World Mental Health Day 2009 - "Mental Health in Primary Care"

by Savitha C Muppala on  October 9, 2009 at 1:50 PM Health In Focus
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The secret of good health lies in the synergy of mind and body. When this delicate balance is disturbed, it shows up as many types of psychosomatic illnesses. A good understanding of how the human mind works is perhaps the first step to sound mental health.

World Mental Health Day (WMHD) which falls on October 10th, 2009, was created to educate and spread vital information about mental health and forms of mental illnesses; the objectives of WMHD also seek to dispel myths and misconceptions, and remove the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.

"Mental Health in Primary Care: Enhancing Treatment and Promoting Mental Health" forms the theme of World Mental Health Day 2009. The objectives seek to recognize the need to integrate mental healthcare into mainstream healthcare to ensure universal access. This assumes all the more importance in the light of the recent prediction made by the World Health Organization, that in the next two decades, Depression is likely to be the number one illness affecting millions of people worldwide.

Illness, Just like any other .....

Mental illness is just like any other illness - it needs medical care and support, not stigma

Mental illness does not choose its victims. It can strike anyone, at any age, notwithstanding barriers of culture and geography. The rate at which mental illness strikes, is recognized as one in 5 worldwide, which proves that mental health issues are now quite common. Nearly 450 million people worldwide are in the throes of mental health problems. Close to 154 million among them are battling depression; yet, we have a long way to go to see improvement in the numbers that actually seek professional help. To get more people to access mental healthcare there is an urgent need for education and information about mental health problems. Half the battle is won if we improve the reach of mental health care by integrating mental health care into primary health care.

Women and Children

Mental health issues of women and children also need due attention. According to a recent health report, close to 10% of children may be suffering from some form of mental disorder. Schools need to have a system where lurking mental health issues in children are brought to the notice of parents and professional help is sought. Ideally, school counselors and administrators can work collaboratively with mental health professionals to tackle the mental health needs of school students. This could cut the rate of students turning violent in school campuses and also student suicides, which we hear of so often these days. Additionally, when children have access to mental healthcare facilities, it helps them grow into healthy individuals who in turn benefit the society and country.

Seek Professional Help

Mental illness is a hotbed of myths and misconceptions. The stigma surrounding mental illness exacerbates victims' plight, and many of them do not receive the much needed support from their families.  Professional help also seems elusive to them. Many of the cases are pushed under the carpet due to the stigma associated with mental illness. Most of the people do not seek help as they would for other types of illnesses.

• Close to 15 million people in India are battling serious mental health problems
• Some 30 million are suffering mild forms of mental illnesses
• Nearly 50% of victims suffering serious mental health disorders go untreated in India

Access to mental health services is lacking in the rural areas. There is an acute shortage of mental health professionals and the sheer effort that goes into accessing mental healthcare could prove a deterrent to seeking help. Further, the stigma, and ignorance may also cause the victims or their families to suppress the problem, hoping things would settle down in time.

It is important that those suffering any form of mental illness seek professional help. Qualified mental healthcare professionals can make a huge difference in the lives of patients.

The government also needs to spruce up the allocation of funds for mental health care which is presently insufficient to meet the growing demand.

State of Mind

Mere absence of mental disorders is not the best yardstick of good mental health. The manner in which an individual is able to straddle work life and relationships, as well as cope with the daily stressors, and yet live in harmony, could be the best indicator of sound mental health.

Mental illness does not warrant a discriminatory approach. For those who are battling mental health issues, this day brings immense hope with the message - "Mental Illness is similar to any other type of illness. Seek professional help to find the remedy."

Source: Medindia

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I really agree with the first sentence in the box. As a CL-Psychiatrist, I deal with many medically ill patients who had also mental problems related to their illness. A neuropsychiatry approach of human mind is the best way to uncover mystery that lies between psychosomatic problems in medically ill patient


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