Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
Event to showcase thoughts on maintaining‘ good mental health’
When the pandemic raged a few months ago the entire country experienced a lockdown; hence most people were isolated from the society. For metally challenged people being isolated is nothing new, so probably they coped better during the curfew period. But when the travel restrictions were lifted everyone else stepped back into the society with ease, but not these mentally challenged individuals. For them stepping back into the society is a long process and can be done only with the help of medical professionals.
This month, October 10 to be exact, is the day set aside in the calendar each year to talk about these individuals, see how they have fared over a period of time and make them show the results of all the hard work put in during the past year to make their lives better ones.
According to Consumer Action Network Mental Health Lanka (CANMH) it plans to organise an event to mark ‘World Mental Health Day’ this Sunday (October 10) together with World Health Organisation (Sri Lanka). The event will be held online this Sunday at 10 am and people are invited to share their experiences in ‘maintaining good mental health during the pandemic’. The modes allowed to express ideas are short videos, photos, stories and art which can be sent via social media platforms. The event will be livestreamed through ‘WHO Sri Lanka
The theme for this year’s celebrations is
‘Mental Health Unequal
World’. The equation of equality could be altered when people see the world through race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity coupled by the lack of respect for human rights; especially with regard to people with challenging mental health conditions.
Such inequalities have an impact on people’s mental health. According to Occupational Therapist Pradeep Gunarathne, BSC.OT Dip, Cpsy.mphil Candidate, who is also the National Organizer of CANMH Lanka, said that Sri Lanka reports nearly 16 suicides per 100,000 population every year. “The majority of them fall in the age range between15 to 44 years. On the other hand, prejudice and discrimination attached to mental health problems prevent people from accessing available mental health services,” said
Gunarathne revealing some of the problems that could be seen from the surface regarding mental health in Sri Lanka.
Individuals who have worked closely with CANMH Lanka vouch that the support they receive is immensely helpful in moving ahead after temporary setbacks. Volunteer/handicraft trainer/lived Experience Advocate and Board Member of CANMH Lanka Dilani de Silva said that the opportunities given to her after she was mentally challenged helped her to move forward in life. “I was once a mental patient and the opportunities given to us to express our creativity through art helped us face society again. It’s through CANMH Lanka that we were able to attend many conferences and gain valuable knowledge and experience. When mentally challenged people are given an opportunity to showcase their skills they find happiness. The next step they experience after happiness is getting some money into their hands. This money then goes into their banks and they also learn the saving habit and also discipline. The goal is to come back to society and give something back to the world,” said Dilani. She also added that for the success of mentally challenged people faith in religion is as important as taking medicine prescribed by doctors.
The goal is to come back to society and give something back to the world When mentally challenged people are given an opportunity to showcase their skills they find happiness
These days during the pandemic we heard of several issues regarding children where parents came up with complaints that their offspring were finding it difficult to cope with the lockdown and inactivity due to the closure of schools. Gunarathne said that adolescents and young adults need proper guidance and support as they are exposed to a greater risk for experiencing adverse mental health. “This World Mental Health Day urges ensuring people are able to enjoy good mental health without barriers or inequalities,” said Gunarathne.
He said that as an occupational therapist he believes in the balance of personal life, work and leisure as the best way to maintain good health.