By Constance Ndeleko
Commemorating world Mental Health Day 2020 under the theme that focuses on increasing investment on psycho-social support amid pandemic
The history of this day dates back to 1992 when an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health celebrated the first-ever World Mental Health Day on October 10.
As we mark this day we speak on a state of well-being in which an individual can realize his/her own potential and can handle stresses of everyday life while working productively and fruitfully, making a meaningful contribution to the community.
Covid-19 has forced as to adapt to the new normal, shifting our lives extensively and mental health has become important even for children as we overcome the unseen enemy.
Around 1 in 5 of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental disorder.|WHO|
The past few month have created an unstable state of mind for most us including the frontline workers having to deal with overwhelming number of patients testing positive for the virus, parents/caregivers losing their financial stability, children being forced to stay at home due to closure of school; where the most vulnerable groups of children having to miss their most important meal of the day at school or losing their safe spaces and social interaction with their teachers and friends. Children have been forced to isolate which has led to distress.
Given the state we are in, the need for mental health and psycho-social support will substantially increase in the coming months and years to come. Thus, the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health not only to adult but to children too.
“This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes the World Health Organization.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated the world is accepting the concept of universal health coverage and that mental health must be an integral part of UHC. “Nobody should be denied access to mental health care because she or he is poor or lives in a remote place,” he added.
Good mental health for children is not about being free from mental illness it is the ability for children to be able to handle everything that life throws at them with their full potential even during emergency situations like the current pandemic
Countries spend on average only 2% of their health budgets on mental health. Despite some increases in recent years, international development assistance for mental health has never exceeded 1% of all development assistance for health. This is despite the fact that for every US$ 1 invested in scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, there is a return of US$ 5 in improved health and productivity.|WHO|
Therapy has been overlooked by many people as it is surrounded by misconceptions and stereotypes forcing most people to hesitate receiving the aid they deserve or even parents/caregivers thinking it’s not time worthy to take children for therapy.
What people fail to understand is that ignoring mental health problems can have many different glitches to the well-being of a child’s growth and development and their lives even as adults.
Therefore it is highly important for everyone to understand mental health for all mothers is important. When a mother experiences stress or depression during pregnancy or after birth they are likely to:
- Have poor mental, emotional and social well-being
- May not interact with her baby
- May not form a strong emotional attachment with the baby
- She may not provide adequate nurturing care to her child
Thus, without adequate support the mother could impact how well the baby grows and develops. Love, care and protection from the partners, friends, family and health care providers promotes emotional and social well-being of the mother which has a great impact t the baby.
As we prepare for re-opening of schools, there’s need for schools to establish guiding and council sessions or group activities that will help children out of the distress caused by the impact of the pandemic for their well-being, growth and development.
“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” – Adam Ant