Categorized | National News

Battling discrimination and stigma against mental health

Mental health is a serious problem spanning all ages all over the world, as staggering figures have proven. 

It is  said that one in every four people are affected by mental disorders at some point, and the numbers continue to grow, leaving health systems across the globe struggling to respond.

This is why Health Minister, Dr. Duane Sands  yesterday stressed the importance of raising the issue of mental health in conversations.

An essential element of this public drive he said, is the need to address the twin issue of stigma and discrimination.

“Far too many people affected by emotional, mental, or substance abuse disorders, are overlooked because there are no obvious signs of their distress. 

“These persons too require access to appropriate care by mental health service providers,” he added.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 14 percent of the global burden of disease is attributed to mental, neurological and substance use disorders. 

“Despite this, most of the people affected by mental, neurological and substance use disorders, many of them, 75 percent in low income countries, do not have access to the treatment that they need, ” said Dr. Sands.

Equally frightening is that around 20 per cent of the world’s children and adolescents have mental problems.

“Half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14 and indeed researchers have noted similar types of disorders are being reported across cultures and across languages,” he said. 

“Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people.

“This is why the World Federation for Mental Health is focusing the 2018 World Mental Health Day campaign as “Young people and mental health in a changing world,” said the Minister.

Experts said what’s even more sobering is the fact that mental illness greatly increases the risk of contracting other serious medical conditions like HIV and non-communicable diseases.

Dr. Sands was addressing the opening of a one-day World Mental Health Day Symposium at the University of the Bahamas,  during which stories, ideas and programmes are shared to help the next generation.

Much of what was discussed focused on those aged 14 to 28 years.

“I personally believe that this is a dynamic group, because they have the reach to impact their peers and the capacity to carry the message forward to those ahead of them in life. 

“So if they are armed properly with the tools to battle discrimination and stigma, they may very well be those who are on the frontline in the years to come.”

Meantime, youth organizations were encouraged to step up and build linkages and partnerships with Sandilands to more effectively educate young people on mental health, substance abuse and disability.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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