Infographic and article by: Ania Filipowicz
With World Mental Health day on the 10th of October, mental health issues gain more and more recognition. This year the focus is on young people’s mental health in the changing world . Considering that approximately 50% of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 and three quarters by the mid-20s, the environment in which children and young people are raised clearly has critical influence on mental health in later life. Increasing early diagnosis is challenging as 9 out of 10 individuals suffering from mental illness say they have been affected by stigma and discrimination, which led a large proportion of them to resign from participating in daily activities. However, these statistics should be a call to action, to increase our everyday efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. We must work through our actions and reactions to show mental illness is not a sign of weakness.
Mental health is a big public health challenge. There are 268 million people suffering from depression and 275 million from anxiety worldwide. Further, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and suicide is a second leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds. One may ask why mental health issues, which often seem to pose such a great challenge to societies’ and individual’s health very often take a back seat. Here we can go back to the previously mentioned stigma and discrimination. On average people with mental disorders tend to die approximately 20 years younger. This is understood to be related to the high prevalence of chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, cancer or diabetes, which are not managed well-enough due to poor access and quality of treatment people with mental disorders receive . This should be an alarm bell for health workers to pay good attention to all patients regardless of their appearance or behaviour as they may those who need their help the most.
This post however is not to bring reader’s mood down, although it may present as a lost battle it truly is not. As I said mental health issues gain more and more recognition and we should be aware that there are good and effective treatments for a variety of mental illness. We ourselves should set good examples while fighting stigmatisation. And above all take care of ourselves and create a safe space for those around us to foster good mental health and wellbeing on a daily basis.