With World Mental Health Day taking place on 10th October, the time is now to open up and overcome the stigmas associated with mental health.
Words by Colin Armstrong
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, what your nationality, background or occupation is – mental health issues can affect anyone at any time. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one out of every four people will suffer from a mental health issue or neurological disorder in their lifetime. So, isn’t it time that we started to take our mental health more seriously?
Understanding mental health
Often when people talk about mental health they’re referring to mental illness – but it’s important to establish that they’re not the same thing. “Generally, mental health refers to a state of balance between someone’s thoughts, behaviours and emotional wellbeing,” explains Dr Rasha Abbas, psychiatry consultant at Danat Al Emarat Hospital. “It’s all about how we feel, think and perceive ourselves and the world around us. “There’s a difference between mental health and mental illness, and they’re not necessarily opposites either; it’s a continuum: mental health can fluctuate but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from a mental disorder.”
Starting the conversation
Held annually on 10th October, World Mental Health Day aims to start people talking about mental health and bring an end to the stigma surrounding related conditions. Giving people the confidence to discuss mental health issues is the first step in ending harmful stereotypes and encouraging people to reach out and get the support they need.
“Simply, the more we talk about mental health, the more it gets normalised and the more people will be comfortable with asking for help,” says Dr Rasha. “Suffering from a mental health condition is not a sign of weakness. Anyone can suffer from a mental health issue. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t seek help until it is out of hand. Generally, the earlier the individual is able to get support, the better the results will be.”
With mental health issues affecting such a large number of people around the world, it’s important that we become more aware and understanding of mental health conditions so that we can be there to give support to those in need, no matter what age they are.
“It’s important to be aware of our loved ones and be able to approach them in a safe and comforting way if we’re concerned about their wellbeing,” explains Dr Rasha. “Try not to be judgemental or offer unhelpful advice, even if it is said with the best of intentions. For example, telling someone to ‘snap out of it’ is not what a person who is suffering from depression needs to hear. The most important thing is if you have concerns about a person then you should support them and encourage them to seek help from a professional.”
Close to home
To mark World Mental Health Day, Dubai’s German Neuroscience Center is offering complimentary phone sessions for people who need advice and support. As the theme of this year’s global event is “young people and mental health in a changing world,” both adults and kids are welcome. They’ll be directed to a range of psychologists and will receive support where appropriate.
German Neuroscience Center. Call 04 4298 578 from 5pm-8pm. Sessions will last a maximum of 20 minutes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries.