World Men­tal Health Day 2016

Dur­ing 2015, about 2,000 in­di­vid­u­als re­quired acute hos­pi­tal care for se­ri­ous men­tal health prob­lems, mostly for brief spells last­ing less than 15 days.

Malta Independent - - COMMENT - Dr John M Cachia is the Com­mis­sioner for Men­tal Health

The ma­jor­ity sought help vol­un­tar­ily or agreed to be ad­mit­ted. How­ever 400 in­di­vid­u­als had to be ad­mit­ted in­vol­un­tar­ily due to the sever­ity of their con­di­tion. These fig­ures do not in­clude many more who suf­fer in si­lence. These are not just num­bers – these are peo­ple, fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als within our cir­cles.

A so­ci­ety that re­spects it­self should be “think­ing” men­tal health daily. In­vest­ing in men­tal health pro­vides a guar­an­teed re­turn on in­vest­ment. The Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) states that di­rect and in­di­rect costs of men­tal ill-health may ex­ceed four per cent of Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP). Apart from di­rect health­care and so­cial costs, men­tal ill­health pushes up the cost of treat­ing other health prob­lems.

In­di­rect costs in­clude lack of em­ploy­a­bil­ity, ab­sen­teeism and pre­sen­teeism (go­ing to work and do­ing noth­ing); the sub­stan­tial cost of in­for­mal care de­liv­ered by par­ents, spouses or part­ners; and the im­mea­sur­able in­tan­gi­ble costs of emo­tional dis­tress, pain, and stigma to whole fam­i­lies.

To get things right, one has to set pri­or­i­ties. The first pri­or­ity is Child, Ado­les­cent and Youth Men­tal Health. Un­treated men­tal dis­or­ders in the young se­verely in­flu­ences the over­all per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and achieve­ments, im­pairs ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment and di­min­ishes the po­ten­tial of a ful­fill­ing pro­duc­tive life. Other chal­lenges in­clude stigma, iso­la­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion. The ben­e­fits of early iden­ti­fi­ca­tion are of­ten jeop­ar­dised by de­layed or lack of ac­cess to health care and ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties. Early iden­ti­fi­ca­tion is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of fam­ily and all health and ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als who en­counter the youngester in the early years.

The sec­ond pri­or­ity is bet­ter men­tal health at the work­place. Men­tal ill-health af­fects 20% of the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion at any given mo­ment. Half of all em­ployed persons will suf­fer a pe­riod of poor men­tal health dur­ing their work­ing life­time. Em­ploy­ers should un­der­stand that like any other ill­ness, peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems may re­quire days of ab­sence from work for a pe­riod of time but then they can re­turn to their em­ploy­ment.

Em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees must widen the agenda for bet­ter men­tal health at the work­place. Mea­sures should in­clude ac­tive promotion of men­tal health and well-be­ing, on­go­ing risk as­sess­ment, with early de­tec­tion and man­age­ment of stress and men­tal health prob­lems. This em­pow­ers em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees to take timely nec­es­sary ac­tion.

The third pri­or­ity is in­ten­sive promotion of pos­i­tive men­tal health and well-be­ing at in­di­vid­ual level and within fam­i­lies, or­gan­i­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ties. This means learn­ing to re­lax and un­wind; tak­ing up more and reg­u­lar leisure and plea­sure ac­tiv­i­ties; man­ag­ing stress and not stress­ing others by our be­hav­iour. Men­tal health lit­er­acy in­ter­ven­tions should ad­dress tar­get groups known to be at higher risk as well as the gen­eral pub­lic.

The fourth pri­or­ity re­quires a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of the pro­vi­sion of men­tal health care ser­vices with a shift to foster more com­mu­nity sup­port. These changes would al­low ear­lier dis­charge and closer fol­low-up of acute pa­tients. Emer­gency psy­chi­atric ser­vices re­quire a 24/7 cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion team that can deal promptly with hos­pi­tal and com­mu­nity psy­chi­atric emer­gen­cies.

These four ac­tion pri­or­i­ties re­quire sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial out­lay and human re­source in­vest­ment to­gether with bold ser­vice re-en­gi­neer­ing in health, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial wel­fare sys­tems.

Our econ­omy and the sus­tain­abil­ity of our ex­is­tence as a suc­cess­ful na­tion today re­lies mainly if not solely on human brain cap­i­tal. Main­stream­ing men­tal health and “think­ing” men­tal health daily is not an op­tion. It is a national pol­icy pri­or­ity.

"The Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) states that di­rect and in­di­rect costs of men­tal ill-health may ex­ceed four per cent of Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP)"

Dr John M Cachia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.