Post-pandemic, mental health concerns and burnout have skyrocketed. “Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds,” according to PAHO/WHO. In the working world, nearly six times as many employers report increased mental health issues among employees post pandemic - post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout being among the most common. A CDC study found the percentage of the population reporting that they felt depressed has quadrupled.
That may just be the beginning. Mental health experts have predicted “a tsunami of psychiatric illness” in this post-pandemic era.
October 10 –
World Mental Health Day
Our cognitive health is vital to our overall health and well-being. Yet one in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions, which can impact their physical health, their well-being, how they connect with others, and their livelihoods. Mental health conditions are also affecting an increasing number of adolescents and young people. Mental health issues in teens often go undiagnosed and untreated.
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the 2023’s theme being, “Mental health is a universal human right” placing the focus on promoting everyone’s mental health as a universal human right. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to bring awareness on what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Improving Access to Mental Health Care
World Health Organization shared, “having a mental health condition should never be a reason to deprive a person of their human rights or to exclude them from decisions about their own health. Yet all over the world, people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations. Many are excluded from community life and discriminated against, while many more cannot access the mental health care they need or can only access care that violates their human rights.”
How do I know if someone has a mental health problem?
Sometimes it will seem obvious when someone is going through a hard time, but there is no simple way of knowing if they have a mental health problem. Sometimes you may not know. It’s more important to respond sensitively and with empathy to someone who seems troubled than to find out whether or not they have a diagnosis.
Although certain symptoms are common with specific mental health problems, no two people behave the same way when unwell. You may notice changes in their behaviour or mood if you know the person well.
Five tips for talking about mental health
1 Set time aside with no distractions
It is important to provide an open and non-judgmental space with no distractions.
2 Let them share as much or as little as they want to
Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t pressure them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about. Talking can take a lot of trust and courage. You might be the first person they have been able to talk to about this.
3 Don’t try to diagnose or second guess their feelings
You probably aren’t a medical expert, and while you may be happy to talk and offer support, you aren’t a trained counsellor. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions.
4 Keep questions open ended
Say, “Why don’t you tell me how you are feeling?” rather than “I can see you are feeling very low”. Try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to grill them with too many questions.
5 Talk about self-care
Discuss ways of de-stressing or practicing self-care and ask if they find anything helpful. Exercising, having a healthy diet and getting a good night’s sleep can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing.
For more information: www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2023
Offering a lifeline
You may also feel a sense of crisis, but staying calm is important. It is crucial that one pays attention to the person confiding in them. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but by showing you understand how they feel, you are letting them know you respect their feelings. Try not to take control and allow them to make decisions. You will have your own limits on the support that you can provide. In offering a lifeline, you may wish to lean on professional medical support. Try to help them create a support network of other friends, relatives and mental health professionals who can help them too.
Remember that if you believe they are in immediate danger or have injuries that need medical attention, you must take urgent action to ensure they are safe.
Learn the Warning Signs
Educate yourself on the warning signs of depression and suicide to support those closest to you. These can include feeling helpless or a burden to others, increased drug use, changes in mood and sleeping habits, saying goodbye and giving away possessions.
Things you can do to support someone who may be contemplating suicide:
• Ask–Don’t be afraid to ask if someone may be thinking about suicide. Check-in with friends, family and co-workers. Ask if you may be worried.
• Listen–Be patient and non-judgmental when persons share thoughts and feelings about their pain.
• Support–Encourage persons to seek help before they experience crisis. Ask how you can support them during their difficult time.
For local emergency and crisis support:
Lifeline: 800-5588/ 866-5433
TOLL FREE : 220-3636
In case of an emergency (suicide attempt) : Call: 990, 811, 999
St. Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital, St. Ann’s Road, St. Ann’s : 624-1151-5
Free Crisis and Emergency Services - www.Findcarett.com