- What is Mental Health in an Unequal World?
10 October is observed as the World Mental Health Day (WMHD) globally. In some places, the entire month gets observed.
How did it start?
It got started as an annual activity of the World Federation of Mental health in 1992. In the first three years, what was marked with a "two-hour telecast broadcast globally through the US information agency satellite system from studios in Tallahassee, Florida," in 1994 turned into a themed global programme. The 1994 theme was--"Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services Throughout the World."
Since 1994, the day got celebrated, creating mental health awareness globally highlighting different themes--mental health in the workplace in 2017--Young people and mental health in a changing world in 2018--Mental health promotion and suicide prevention in 2019".
This year theme is Mental Health in an Unequal World.
Many cultures and communities have a wrong perception that mental health issues affect only moral defaulters, sinners, lower class and not the godfearing. Unfortunately, these perceptions rule the majority minds the source of stigma and apathy towards those victims of mental health issues. Dispelling these misconceptions to divert the negative energy towards the fact-finding of the mental maladies and create a healthy space for their victims is a primary aim of such awareness.
In South Africa, the entire month of October is observed for creating mental health awareness.
As part of the awareness creation, a national site informs that "mental health problems are the result of a complex interplay between biological, psychological, social and environmental factors." And that there is increasing evidence that the content and context of work can play a role in developing mental health problems in the workplace.
The key factors the site identifies in the context:
Workload (both excessive and insufficient work)
Lack of participation and control in the workplace
Monotonous or unpleasant tasks
Role ambiguity or conflicts
Lack of recognition at work
Poor interpersonal relationship
Poor working conditions
Poor leadership and communication
Conflicting home and work demands
The workplace can contribute positively to mental health at the same time, exacerbate it. Employers can play a significant role in keeping the employee's mental health a priority through stressing work ethics and equality.
The Covid aftermath has dramatically affected the workspace dynamics--especially in the case of the stay at home employees. Equally or more the home atmosphere--many complain the members sharing the home space bares chasms in the relationship, failing to adjust to the new situation. Suicide, murder, drug and alcohol abuse among the young and old are getting overboard.
In India, Mansukh Mandaviya, the union health minister, took to Twitter to appeal to end 'stigma' and appealed to those affected to come forward and seek help.
Mental Health in an Unequal World
The 2021 theme--Mental Health in an Unequal World --is about making mental health care a reality for all. "The theme emphasises the urgent need to close the gap in access to care for people with mental health and psychological disabilities around the world."
The theme finds excellent relevance in the events unfolding in the post-covid world. Needless to say, in unequal societies, the miseries of mental health are manifold. Women are the unrecognised victims in such communities. The world has moved more positively in recognising and suggesting solutions to eradicate gender and social/caste discrimination, but mental health still remains unrecognised.
People suffering from misery are more prone to mental health problems. The more unhappy people, the more doomed is a nation. No matter its material richness or cultural prowess.
World Mental Health day serves as an important reminder of this message to every person and the nation to direct the resources to take mental health and happiness as a crucial ingredient in keeping the national cohesion, peace and progress.