MENTAL HEALTH IN AN UNEQUAL WORLD by E.S Ezaka.
According to the World Health Organization , mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities; can cope with the normal stresses of life; can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
As important as its awareness is to human development, a day is set aside to commemorate mental health promotion. World Mental Health Day is an annual event celebrated every 10th October to raise awareness towards mental health promotion, advocacy, and education.
The day was first observed on 10th October 1992 as an annual activity organized by the then Deputy Secretary-General of the World Federation for Mental Health, Richard Hunter. The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day celebration is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”.
The theme was announced by the president of the World Federation for Mental Health, Dr. Ingrid Daniels, after a unanimous vote by the federation members, supporters, and stakeholders .
The theme is apt due to unequal economic status where the rich are getting richer and the number of people in abject poverty is on the increase. The gap between the two groups has continued to widen as 75% to 95% of individuals with mental disorders in developing countries lack access to mental health services, while the rate in developed countries is still discouraging [2b].
Unequal distribution of available resources in the society is a factor that affects the general population. Social inequality , refers to relational processes in the society which limit or harm a group’s social status, social circle, and social class.
These limitations can be seen in our society today in terms of gender inequality, ethnic inequality, educational inequality, and inequality in the healthcare system. While some people have access to quality and functional healthcare services, others are disadvantaged either as a result of the nonexistence of healthcare facilities in their locality, dilapidated structures, a long distance from home, or where the facility is functional, lack of trained health professionals may be a challenge, and when these are not properly handled, they can contribute to poor mental wellbeing.
However, all these limitations are avoidable when individuals understand their abilities and can function optimally. The impact of mental health on human development cannot be overemphasized, as improved mental wellbeing helps individuals to cope with life stressors, be more productive at work, reduce the crime rate, stigma against people living with mental disorders, drug abuse, and other social vices.
Also, people can improve their mental wellbeing through self-acceptance, being active, taking a break from daily activities, eating well, or seeking help from trained professionals.
On the other hand, mental health professionals in Nigeria should be supported through the establishment of various schools of psychology, research centers, well-equipped psychiatry hospitals, and the inclusion of mental disorders in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
All hands must be on deck in mental health promotion, advocacy, and education. As the saying goes, no health without mental health.