Kathmandu, October 9
The World Health Organisation Regional Office for South Asia has laid emphasis on the need to safeguard the well-being of people with mental health conditions.
“Dignity is one of the most daunting challenges in mental health. Dignity in mental health means steps are taken to safeguard the well-being of people with mental health conditions, thus liberating them from the shackles of self-stigma, low confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation. To break the barrier of prejudice and insensitivity, dignity and mental health have to go hand-in-hand. We will achieve dignity for mental health when communities, families and individuals have the confidence to seek help for mental health without fear and inhibition,” a press statement issued by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia, on the World Mental Health Day, which is observed on October 10, said. The theme for this year is ‘dignity in mental health’.
The day is the annual global celebration of mental health education, awareness and advocacy. This day is an opportunity to reflect on where we are and what we need to do to make mental health care a reality for people around the world. According to WHO, mental, neurological and substance use disorders are common all over the world, affecting every community and age group and across all low-income countries. While 14 per cent of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected, almost 75 per cent in many low-income countries, do not have access to treatment that they need.
“WHO is committed to work towards a future when people with mental health conditions live a life of dignity, which is a fundamental human right. It promotes a shift from long-stay mental hospitals, which is in itself stigmatizing, to care in community-based settings which are more dignified,” she stated. “Together we need to ensure that mental health strategies and interventions for treatment, prevention and promotion are compliant with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other rights instruments.”
WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
A version of this article appears in print on October 10, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.