Last month, we celebrated the "Time to Talk Day 2019" - a day which encouraged everyone to talk about mental health. Mental health problems affect one in four of us but still, people are afraid to talk about it. Although treatments and help are available, most people with mental disorders never seek help from professionals. Furthermore, mental health only accounts for ca. 1% of global aid, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Some of the main risk factors which impact our health include alcohol consumption, tobacco consumption and obesity. Mental health can be closely linked to these risk factors and need to be addressed too. Governments around the world are working towards tackling these issues. According to the WHO, over 40% of all countries have no mental health government policy at all, over 30% have no mental health programme and ca. 25% of countries lack mental health legislation.
The WHO estimates that every 40 seconds, somebody in the world commits suicide. Nearly a million people commit suicide every year. It is commonly known that suicides tend to happen mainly in rich and developed countries. But did you know that Guyana has the 4th highest suicide rates amongst men globally, and Lesotho has the highest suicide rates among females globally?
There are several factors behind high suicide rates. For instance, political ambiguity, psychological stress, a decline in economic prosperity and lack of confidence in the future all cause many people to feel depressed and mentally unwell.
High levels of alcohol consumption have also been linked to high suicide rates, particularly in Eastern Europe, such as Lithuania and Russia.
There are startling differences in suicide trends between male and females. In India, statistics show that women under 30 are more prone to suicide when they are exposed to life changes such as arranged marriages with a lack of basic freedom.
In the Republic of Korea, the government launched an inter-ministerial action plan in 2018, to lower suicide rates.
High suicide rates amongst young people have also been linked to social media and cyberbullying. In February 2019, Instagram announced it would no longer allow graphic images of self-harm on its platform.
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In October 2018, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the actress/singer Lady Gaga, co-authored an article for The Guardian.
"Instead of treating those facing mental health conditions with the compassion we would offer to someone with a physical injury or illness, we ostracise, blame and condemn. We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma or stymied by misguided ideas that portray these conditions as a matter of weakness or moral failing. Research shows there is a fourfold return on investment for every dollar spent on treating depression and anxiety, the most common mental health conditions, making spending on the issue a great investment for both political leaders and employers, in addition to generating savings in the health sector."