World Mental Health Day 2018 – Early Detection, Combating the Stigma and Healthier Treatments

There is a thin line between sane and mentally ill, it can happen to anyone and anytime. Something as ‘simple’ as prolonged depression is considered a form of mental illness. A lot of people suffer from some form of mental illness, hence, the popular phrase “clean clothes mad man.”

Getting rid of the stigma

Worldwide there is a stigma surrounding most illnesses, especially mental illness. Some mental ill persons won’t even admit to having challenges mentally and won’t seek help until they are severely ill.

In some parts to Africa, such as Somaliland, they chain mentally I’ll individuals at home and also in mental hospitals, whether private or public. Subjecting these individuals to disgrace and ridicule. There are currently laws being enacted to prevent that very inhuman act. Similarly new mitigating measures are being sought after to replace Chaining such as technical and financial aid for hospital reform, there is also a need for increase mental awareness to improve the domestic conditions for people living with mental illness. Community care programmmes should be developed to encourage psychosocial relationships and to facilitate the rehabilitation of mentally ill individuals and subsequently their reintegration into society. Mental health literacy is still a dire need amongst health workers, this will ensure that the basic right of persons are monitored and guaranteed.

Close to home

In developing countries such as Somaliland, there is little or no psychotherapy treatment, with ratios ranging from 2:3,500,00, whereas there are two certified psychiatric doctors, to serve a three million and five hundred thousand population. In Jamaica, there are currently eight hundred psychiatrists and a three million plus population. Bellevue is the main mental health hospital, with exception of the mental health wards in the public hospitals, which are highly dependent on psychotropic drugs rather than psychotherapy.

These drugs are majorly used to alter the brain and the behavior of individuals, however, the risks far precede the benefits as research show that these drugs damage the brain, especially in children.

Less than a month ago, Jamaican mental advocate lashes out against health minister Dr. Christopher Tufton about lack of focus on the mental health sector, emphasizing that there are no plans in place to combat the challenges they face. As a result, a mental health hotline is expected to be established by ending October.

Children with mental illnesses

Pediatric use of psychotropics to treat psychiatric symptoms including depression, mania, anxiety, psychosis and attention issues is heavily researched to determine the effects they are have on the brain. In 2012, a review conducted by Dr. Manpreet Singh, director of the Pediatric Mood Program at Stanford University advised that the ” knowledge of the long-term risks of various interventions is very limited” leading to “justifiable concerns” about their use on developing brains. In 2018, Singh says her assessment remain the same, “what we need are more carefully designed research studies to be able to understand the biological effects of trauma, as well as other events in childhood and how treatment such as psychotherapy, as well as medications, can have an impact on those effects.”

In April, lawyers from the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law filed a lawsuit against the Texas Shiloh Treatment Center claiming that staff gave migrant children in their care psychotropic drugs as “chemical-straight jackets” to maintain order, sometimes without consent or explanations.

Action Plan for Stakeholders and Participants of Transformation

Recommendations and Action Plan for Stakeholders

1)    Recognize that mental health is a global issue with vast lack of awareness, knowledge about conditions and also a high stigma attached to victims, which blocks adaptive learning, enforces ignorance and generates neuro-psychological traumas.

2)    Promote “brain food, fitness and training” as a 90% effective way to modify behavior.

3)    Promote 90% learning through “community intervention and awareness drives and seminars, to solve problems

4)    Remove ‘Behavior Punishment’ and psychotropic drug administration based treatment, and replace with psychotherapy and rehabilitation strategies such as coheres activities.

5)    Encourage awareness of this research, especially on social media, among teams sharing and practicing to resolve problems.

6)    Enforce mandatory mental education in school, church and workplaces.

7)    Individuals require Dietary and Psycho-therapy Training to readily embrace the differences and provide support for the mentally ill.

8)    Lobby for the use of a Neuro-Psychological or Brain Assessment in allocating resources to improve teaching and learning; people are often unaware of disabilities.

9)   Pioneer the launch of Jamaica World Brain Month (July and on 22nd World Brain Day) campaign to highlight brain related challenges and the link to mental health and illnesses.

10. Highlight World Mental Health Day in schools and workplaces to reduce stigma, increase awareness and to minimize the neglect in this sector.

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