Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day. Yes, I accept that for some of you I am a day early. That thing called time zones always has me a day ahead of everything, but maybe that just means we can have two World Mental Health Day’s. What do you think? Twice the coverage? It would have to be good.
My first task on this day was to go look at what the World Health Organisation (WHO) have set for the theme of the year. This year’s theme is the elderly and mental health. Personally I think this is a great theme, not simply because we are all getting older, but because I have an 85 year mother for who I have some responsibility to help as she copes with what old age throws at her. Old age ain’t pretty (and I’m not talking looks) but it’s actually not what I have on my heart today, so I’m deviating from the theme. Apparently that’s allowed.
I am worried about what is happening about the mental health needs of those on our planet who aren’t fortunate enough to live in first world countries. From where I’m looking it doesn’t seem like there is a whole lot of support for people with mental illnesses in the third world, and perhaps war-torn countries, let alone for those who are simply trying to maintain a good level of mental health.
Look at the globe depicted in the hand in the image above, and that says a lot to me. Because it seems that all the world’s focus is on the countries who actually probably have the resources to handle their needs, if they just managed them properly. But where are the poorer, less resourced countries? They are the ones that need to be targeted.
I like the focus there is on veteran mental health, and the need identified for post traumatic stress support and treatment for those who have served in war zones. But what about the people who live in those lands as their home? What are we doing to treat their post traumatic stress? They experience trauma too.
A few weeks back there was a major (7.7 magnitude earthquake in Balochistan, Pakistan). Having lived through a number of catastrophic earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, I admit my ears prick up when I hear there has been another major quake somewhere in the world. While this doesn’t directly relate to World Mental Health Day, what struck me then was the scant media coverage of the tragedy. For some reason the people of Pakistan suffering and being killed was of seeming little importance to the world media, and so it sadly becomes of little importance to the world.
And that’s where I get back to World Mental Health Day. When world media decide for themselves what they class as important, people miss out on the aid and treatment they need. The survivors of that quake will be in all sorts of need for mental health support right now, but what’s the bet that half of us didn’t even know it happened?
What else matters to me? I’ve been thinking about the situation in Russia with the open abuse and restrictions on those people who identify with LGBTQ. I wonder if you are a transexual, Russian woman how you access good and safe psychiatric care for your Bipolar Disorder? The gay, Russian man with suicidal depression? I’m wondering whether they are of any priority to the people and services who have the skills and resources to treat these people? They need and deserve the same standard of care as the heterosexuals in that country.
I don’t know the answer to these questions but I damn well hope someone does. I hope someone has these peoples needs on their priority lists.
World Mental Health Day is a wonderful tool if we use it to ensure that mental health services stretch right around the globe. If World Mental Health Day is just for the first world countries then I think we are all letting down our fellow human beings. We are one planet and we are all worthy of quality mental health.
“I’ve always thought of wholeness and integration as necessary myths. We’re fragmented beings who cement ourselves together, but there are always cracks. Living with the cracks is part of being, well, reasonably healthy”
― Siri Hustvedt, The Sorrows of an American
Join us for the 3rd Annual World Mental Health Day Blog Party on Oct. 10 (psychcentral.com)
- World Mental Health Day (On Kiwi Time) (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)