World Mental Health Day 2018: Focus On Mental Well-Being Of The Young And Adolescent
By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world.
Those six are a tiny fraction of the 800,000 people who will kill themselves this year – more than the population of Washington DC, Oslo or Cape Town, writes Lady Gaga (singer, songwriter and actress) and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (director-general of the World Health Organization) in an Op-Ed in the Guardian.
This year’s World Mental Health Day—marked on 10 October—puts a spotlight on the need to promote and to protect adolescent mental health.
Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur: changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these could be both exciting as they would be stressful times. Failure to recognise and manage these feelings could lead to mental illness. Many adolescents live in areas affected by conflicts, natural disasters, and epidemics, and these situations could leave them with hidden psychological wounds. In addition, the expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures.
Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated, notes the World Health Organisation (WHO). Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.
CARTA Cohort Three Fellow, Adeyinka Adefolarin, from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria shares: “The shift to social media sites as play space among adolescents is playing in a virtual world. It has both negative and positive influences. However, conscious social institutions’ effort to promote social media use education, physical social interaction and community participation could better promote good mental health.” Adeyinka’s doctoral research on mental health promotion focuses on maternal mental health.
Stigma, fear and lack of understanding keep away the young people from seeking much-needed help.
Boladale Mapayi, CARTA graduate from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria says this can be addressed if the community builds the self-image, self-esteem, and agency that promotes resilience and recovery in young people.
“To promote adolescent mental health, it is essential to steer adolescents away from every hint of addiction, from psychoactive substances to gambling and gaming. In this age of fast and furious, we need to promote slow and compassionate, the need to stop and smell the flowers, actually savour them instead of just posting a lovely picture of it on Instagram!” the graduate with a PhD in Clinical Psychology from OAU adds.
She recommends engaging the adolescents in programming their own mental health interventions and rehabilitation.
In addition, mental health in adulthood is a reflection of mental state at childhood and adolescence. “The better your mental health, the greater the quality of your life,” says Oyeyemi Olajumoke Oyelade Cohort Eight fellow from OAU.
The World Mental Health Day was also marked by the release of a new report from the Lancet Commission on Mental Health and Sustainable Development at the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit, in London. Our fellow Boladale Mapayi attended the summit.
The report, The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development, shows inaction on mental health crisis will cost the world $16 Trillion by 2030. This is data collected from earlier studies which capture the indirect costs, in terms of social welfare, law and order, due to common mental disorders such as mood, anxiety and trauma related conditions and alcohol-induced disorders.
The report shows that in many countries, people with mental disorders still routinely suffer gross human rights violations – including shackling, torture and imprisonment. Bringing attention to these kinds of abuse and discrimination, the Commission calls for a human rights-based approach to ensure that people with mental health conditions are not denied any of their fundamental human rights – not just to health but also to employment and education.
The Lancet Commission thus proposes that the global mental agenda should be expanded from a focus on reducing the treatment gap to improving the mental health of whole populations and reducing not only the stigma but also the global burden of mental disorders by addressing gaps in prevention and quality of care.
Written by Eunice Kilonzo, CARTA Communications Officer.