Common mental illnesses such as depression can be extraordinarily disabling, yet many people with those illnesses do not receive treatment.
Few years back, I suffered from a severe stomach ache. It got worse and worse by the day. I could not sleep, could not eat and think. So next morning, I went to consult the doctor. I did not have an appointment so I had to wait for hours but those hours felt like eternity to me. I got helped and after few days the pain was gone.
Couple of years ago, I had a friend who was on a similar situation. My friend did not suffer from stomach ache though. She was suffering from depression. The pain was not limited to her stomach—it was in her leg, on her tooth, in her head and inside her heart. The millions of thought burning needles were everywhere in her. She could not eat, sleep and think. All there was was pain. When my friend called for help, no one took her by hand. She went from a doctor to another. It took her a year to be cured.
We both were in pain and we both needed help. I suffered from stomach ache and received help. But my friend who is suffering from something just as real and just as painful, though may be invisible, was neglected by health care system.
My friend is no exception. We are currently living in a world where one in four persons is currently affected by mental disorders, and three out of four people suffering from mental disorders do not receive any treatment. Common mental illnesses such as depression can be extraordinarily disabling, yet many people with those illnesses do not receive treatment. The suicide rate is increasing day by day in many countries around the world. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youngsters. Every year close to 800000 people end their own lives and there are many more people who attempt suicide.
The demand for mental health services is stronger than ever.
Staying mentally well should be given the same priority by policymakers as keeping physically fit. Policies are needed to maintain good mental health rather than just treating acute mental illness. Mental health services have not kept pace with demand or improved as much. They remain concentrated on a small group of people who are acutely unwell. This does not adequately help all those with long term mental health problem or people with more common experiences of depression and anxiety. The health system should better promote the mental health and wellbeing of the whole community.
Mental health is a multifaceted problem. So, to address this multi-sectoral approach including non-health sector is critical. It is necessary to include mental health as a core component of our education, disaster preparedness, nutrition, maternal and child health programs.