October 10th is World Mental Health Day. The theme this year is " Mental health in an unequal world". It a day to examine mental health care delivery to affected people, among other issues, and look at ways to implement effective strategies that improve accessible mental health care for all.
A person’s mental health is influenced by their genetic makeup, social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors. Whether or not people live with mental health issues or disorders, everyone is entitled to overall wellbeing and good mental health. This allows people to live fulfilling lives, meet life goals, be productive members in our communities and cope well. It is a fundamental human right for everyone to have food, clothing, housing, healthcare, needed social services employment and old age security. These culminate into individual, community and societal wellbeing.
However, we live in an unequal world influenced by a variety of factors. Poverty, effects of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and regional conflicts, which displace people; civil unrest, domestic violence, human rights abuses and discrimination against marginalized and people with mental disorders. All these affect mental well-being and how people access and receive standard mental health care. Depending on where you work, live and play, health systems may or may not be robust enough for easy access to mental health care services and treatment. Gaps that impact access and continuity of care exist in the system.
On the home front, marginalized people with mental disorders; including those living with chronic diseases, disabilities, socioeconomic deprivation, domestic violence, in unsafe neighborhoods, poor education, unemployment, discrimination, poor housing, homelessness, in remote regions, refugees, migrants, blacks, Indigenous, other people of color, and LGBQT communities, have problems with access to standard mental health care services and treatment. This is mostly due to gaps in the system that negatively impact access and continuity of care.
Consequently, lack of treatment and management of mental illnesses, isolation, low self esteem, unemployment, drug and alcohol use, drug addiction overdose deaths, suicide, chronic infectious disease, loss of personal power, homelessness and violence become the burden of society.
What can be done to make universal access to mental health care a reality? Mental health care delivery has to be rigorous and sustainable at the Individual, community, health care organization and Policy levels. Established community programs that support family relationships, safe housing, schools, neighborhoods, and food security, social and political inclusion should be reinforced. Community member-led agencies that address human rights, stigma, racism and other forms of discrimination should be implemented to empower youth, especially, to give them a sense of identity, resilience, know their worth, and contribute positively to their community and society.
Awareness and prevention of mental health issues and disorders is important at the wellness/prevention and pre-disease level. Individuals and families should be empowered with evidence-based information on healthy lifestyle behaviors, mental disorders, their impact, treatments and recovery. Teach skills that improve overall health and resilience.
Sima Health Consultancy is doing its part with youth mental health literacy. Through information, skills education and health systems navigation, we engage with youth, with or without mental disorders and their families to improve their mental health, well-being, prevent mental disorders and assist them to access treatment early. Community agencies and Corporations are all stakeholders and should embrace partnerships and collaborative efforts with community health promoters to complement acute care interventions to effectively deliver high standards of mental health care and wellbeing and function to vulnerable people. Collaboration and partnerships with Community and Corporate stakeholders are critical to definitive outcomes in our quest to achieve mental health for all, even in an unequal world.