World Mental Health Day is designed to raise public awareness of mental illnesses and encourage frank, honest discussion about a subject that is often shrouded in stigma. This year the theme of the day is “investing in mental health”.
The current state of the economic climate has resulted in extensive cuts to mental health services across Europe. This means that millions of people suffering from mental illnesses are not getting the priority or support they need.
A report published earlier this year by international journal “Nature” exposed the shocking neglect of mental health patients across the globe. According to experts, the true extent of mental illness across the world has been “grossly underestimated”.
Results show that low to middle income countries such as Fiji and Sri Lanka spend less than 2% of their annual health budget on mental health.
Somalia offers an even grimmer example. 20 years of war has left 1/3 of the population suffering from some form of mental illness, with only 3 psychiatrists in the entire country to help them.
In Somalia, mental illness is often treated with ignorance and cruelty. The World Health Organisation has claimed that 90% of mentally ill Somali people are likely to be chained up at some point in their lives.
According to a programme run by mental health charities ‘Mind’ and ‘Rethink Mental Illness’, 9 out of 10 people suffering from mental illnesses in the UK will also face some form of discrimination in their lives.
London-based psychiatrist Carys Williams believes the discrimination is down to ignorance. She feels that it is possible to prevent mental health issues “through educating people about the mental health impact of certain stressors and how to manage them correctly”.
Since the charity-run programme was set up in 2007, there has been a 4% reduction in nationwide discrimination of mental health sufferers.
With popular public figures such as Steven Fry and Tulisia Contostavlos backing mental health charities, the national perception of mental illness should soon be changing for the good.
View the original article at The Independent