It’s time to take mental health more seriously
Body and mind are often seen distinctively -- but in truth, one is complementary to the other. Poor physical health might give way to the danger of developing mental health problems. Equally, bad mental health can adversely affect physical health.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which each individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work fruitfully and productively, and can contribute to his or her community. By this interpretation, it is clear that if anyone wishes to contribute to society, they must first be mentally fit.
This could not be a more serious issue in a vastly populated country like Bangladesh, where more than 4.4 million youths are unemployed. Statistics show that the mental health problem is most common among the unemployed. Almost 25% of all unemployed men are depressed. This is an alarming sign, because if a majority of the population is not ready to contribute, then the progress will be sluggish.
According to the WHO, more than 75% of people suffer from mental health problems in developing countries. Mental health is not just a matter of ignorance in a nation like Bangladesh, it is also subjected to shaming. Many adults with severe mental illness are questioned. On the one hand, they are struggling with the symptoms and disorders; on the other, the stereotypes and pre-conceptions resulting from misunderstandings about mental illness keep challenging them.
As a consequence of both, mentally ill individuals are deprived of possibilities that define quality of life: Good jobs, healthy housing situations, decent health care, and a healthy social life.
In more developed countries, mental health is treated with much more care and consideration. For Americans, receiving therapy is as common as a trip to the doctor. Even students are dealt with sensitively -- there are counselling departments in almost every university in Australia, for example, where a student can share their private, career, and academic grievances free of cost.
Mental illness works as a silent killer, as you may not even realize the damaging impacts of being mentally ill. Poor mental health has been shown to be harmful to physical health in multiple respects. UK’s Mental Health Foundation states that people with the highest levels of self-rated distress (compared to lowest rates of distress) were 32% more likely to have died from diagnosed cancer.
It has been discovered that depression is associated with an enhanced danger of coronary heart disease. In addition, a sound mind reflects sound solutions. If someone is not mentally sound, it will automatically degrade his or her productivity..
What to do now?
First, awareness should be created among the general populace. Mental illness is a very common issue. It is as simple as getting physically ill. The family can play a big role here. A healthy family environment can help create a healthy mentality. To create a better family atmosphere, more time should be spent with family members.
Second, society needs to encourage non-judgmental speech. We should try to educate those around us on how to talk about mental illness. Never use insulting phrases such as “mad” or “crazy.” Social organizations should come forward willingly to nurture individuals who are mentally unstable or depressed.
Young people are our assets; they will soon lead this country. Considering this, universities should set up psychological counseling to build a healthy nation.
The media is the most powerful way to reach to the mass people. It can play a significant role in creating awareness. If we want to turn ourselves into a healthy, intelligent, and sustainable nation, if we want to boost our workforce’s effectiveness, then there is no option than to battle this silent killer.
Annur Islam Sifat is a freelance contributor.