Mental health refers to your emotional and psychological well-being. Having good mental health helps you lead a relatively happy, balanced and healthy life. Being healthy emotionally can promote productivity and helps you demonstrate resilience and the ability to cope in the face of life's stresses and adversities. Our mental health is just like our physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
However, over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behaviour could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including: biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry; life experiences, such as trauma or abuse and family history of mental health problems.
Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Excessive anxiety and stress can contribute to physical problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and colitis. Anxiety and stress can also reduce the strength of the immune system, making people more vulnerable to conditions ranging from the common cold to cancer.
Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. People struggling with their mental health may be in your family, live next door, teach your children or work in the next cubicle. Unfortunately, only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at school and work, fewer employment opportunities and increased risk of suicide.
Although the general perception of mental illness has improved over the past decades, studies show that stigma against mental illness is still powerful, largely due to media stereotypes and lack of education, and that people tend to attach negative stigmas to mental health conditions at a far higher rate than to other diseases and disabilities, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
Showing individuals respect and acceptance removes a significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Advocating within our circles of influence helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your community. Learning more about mental health allows us to provide helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.
Small things like exercising, eating a balanced and healthy meals, opening up to other people in your life, taking a break when you need to, remembering something you are grateful for and getting a good night's sleep, can be helpful in boosting your emotional health. If you start to feel like your emotional health is starting to impact you, it may be time to reach out for extra support or talk to a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. When we are free of depression, anxiety, excessive stress and worry, addictions, and other psychological problems, we are more able to live our lives to the fullest.
An initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, and aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world, as well as mobilising efforts in support of better mental health. Observed in more than 100 countries, it also gives mental health workers, doctors, nurses and other professionals a chance to dispel mental health myths, reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues and to help people recognise when they or their friends and family members may need to seek treatment.
World Mental Health Day can trace its roots back to 1992. Some of the activities which are held to highlight mental health issues include art exhibitions, official signings of World Mental Health Day proclamations, lectures, seminars and health fairs.
The theme selected for this year's Day is 'Suicide Prevention. According to the WHO, more than 800,000 people die by suicide a year, making it the principal cause of death among people 15 to 29 years old. It is often believed that it is only adults who exhibit suicidal behaviours, but many children and young people also engage in this kind of behaviour as a result of violence, sexual abuse, bullying and cyber bullying. The object of making suicide prevention the theme of World Mental Health Day in 2019 is to improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone. And to attract the attention of governments so that the issue might be given priority in public health agendas around the world.