Yesterday, persons around the globe celebrated World Mental Health Day 2019, with great focus being placed on suicide prevention.
World Mental Health Day is organised by the World Federation for Mental Health and this year’s celebration was supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health.
It is said that every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide, and, as such, people from around the globe, including Barbados, were asked to join for “40 seconds of action” to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.
Now whilst the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day was on suicide and its effects, it must be said that the day in particular also calls to mind a need for us to focus more on the topic of psychological well-being. It seems that in our local culture, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on ensuring physical well-being. However, the need to protect and maintain one’s health at the mental level, is often overlooked.
However, as Barbadians, we need to ensure that we are in good and sound mental health, free from stress and depression and other illnesses that can affect us psychologically. No one is free from issues of mental health. Once we have a functioning mind and we exist in this world, we will have to work to maintain good mental health, throughout the lifespan. There are so many issues that can crop up and get the best of us and if we are not careful, worry and anxiety will take over.
Throughout the Lifespan, there will be certain events that will also affect our mental performance. On hearing that a loved one will no longer be with us in this life, we cannot expect to operate at the same mental level as we would have, say an hour prior. However, given some time and some support, we can turn our thinking around. Thus, we need to take care of our mental state, which can in turn affect our physical state.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems, although good mental health is likely to help protect against development of many such problems. Good mental health the Foundation says, is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfil a number of key functions and activities, including: the ability to learn, the ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions, the ability to form and maintain
good relationships with others and the ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty.
That said, there is some work to be done when it comes to the topic of stigma and discrimination, in relation to those who have mental health challenges. Nonetheless, we must not speak about mental health issues in hushed tones, but do more to address the topic of mental health, so those who need the requisite support, will be bold enough to step out and get the help they need.