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World Mental Health Day

by Stephanie Koathes Oct 7, 2019

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Sad and lonely black girl feeling depressed

There’s an adage that says if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Health isn’t limited to our bodies; mental health is just as important.

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October. This international awareness day was established to shed light on mental health issues and boost efforts to support mental health.

What is mental health?

Mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, cognitive, and behavioural wellbeing. When someone is healthy mentally, they are able to handle normal life stresses, to contribute to society, and work productively.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health “is not just the absence of mental disorder.”

Our mental wellbeing affects how we cope with daily life. In the absence of a state of mental health, someone is said to have a mental illness or disorder.

WHO estimated that around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems, with about half of mental disorders manifesting before age 14.

Some common mental illnesses are:

•             Major depression.

•             Bipolar disorder.

•             Anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

•             Schizophrenia.

There are some signs and symptoms that might help you to identify if someone you know is having trouble with their mental health. These include:

•             No longer engaging in activities, they once enjoyed.

•             Sleeping too long or too little.

•             Eating too much or too little.

•             Using drugs.

•             Not being able to complete routine tasks.

•             Confusion.

•             Self-harming thoughts.

•             Delusions.

•             Persistent low energy.

•             Hearing voices.

No one should be ashamed of having a mental illness. Shame often prevents people from seeking the necessary help.

In Jamaica, we often joke about mental illness and do not take it as seriously as it should be taken. 

According to a 2011 study by Frederick Hickling, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, 40% of the population is dealing with mental illness.

If you, or someone you know, is exhibiting signs of mental illness, seek help. Talk to friends or family and reach out to the professional psychologists and counsellors who can assist.

Sources: World Health Organization, Jamaica Observer, Medical News Today