Globally World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October every year. It is done so with the objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world. It is used as an opportunity for all working on mental health issues around the world to mobilize efforts by taking about their work, requirements and what really needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for everyone across the globe.
In Sri Lanka a National Mental Health Helpline 1926 was launched on the 15th of October this year. It is open for the public 24×7 for mental health care needs including emergency care, treatment guides, mental health information and mental health related issues. The helpline is operated by trained mental health professionals with the follow-up care also provided through proper state mental health care service channels.
This year World Mental Health Day will focus on the young with the theme being Young People and Mental Health in a changing world. Adolescence and early adulthood are times of change for many and while it can be exciting filled with new opportunities and experiences, for some it can be a time filled with stress created by uncertainty. Another reality that today’s youth face is dealing with the peer pressure of the virtual world. It can be a lonely and exacting place where they start to value themselves based on the amount of like and views they can generate per post. And of course, there is the trauma that children who have experienced conflict, natural disasters and epidemics experience and so are vulnerable to mental distress.
According to the UN, half of mental health issues start by the age of 14. However, in most cases it sadly goes undetected and untreated. It is shocking to realise that suicide in the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. Many countries also find their youth indulging in unsafe activities such as consuming alcohol and the use of illicit drugs.
On a positive note there is an ever-growing awareness on the importance of helping young people build mental resilience and to cope with the challenges of the modern world. A healthy and mentally fit young adult grows into a positive contributor to the future workforce, society and the family. Taking care of our young and young adult’s mental wellbeing has long term positive effects that we will all benefit from.
Especially responsible adults, parents and teachers can play an important role in helping children cope with pressure and responsibilities, providing them with the necessary skills and knowhow. This will go a long way towards helping them build mental resilience. Understanding the signs and symptoms and taking timely action to help is important. Understanding that mental issues and stresses are a very real factor for children will help us a society to remedy the situation before it can have disastrous consequences. It is important that we all work together to ensure that we all support each other and help towards building a mentally resilient society.
Western Hospital offers a host of services and expert Consultants along with a 24 hour Emergency Unit manned by experienced medical staff and an on call dedicated Physician.