This year Mental Health Day 2021 falls on Sunday 10th October. The WFMH (World Federation for Mental Health) President Dr Ingrid Daniels has announced the theme for World Mental Health Day 2021, ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. This stems from the fact that the world is becoming increasingly polarised, between the haves and the have nots. The very wealthy are becoming wealthier, and the impoverished are becoming even more so. The theme in 2020 highlighted inequalities regarding race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and the lack of respect for human rights in many countries. This includes the rights of those with mental illness.
75% to 95%
People in low and middle-income countries who have no access to mental health services.The outlook in high-income countries is not much better. Lack of investment in mental health disproportionate to the overall health budget contributes to the mental health treatment gap.
What is mental health?
Good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems. Mental health is related to several key functions and abilities:
- The ability to learn
- The ability to feel, express, and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
- The ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
- The ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty
Signs of mental illness
- Possible signs vary from the more subtle to very severe:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and people
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
- Suicidal thinking
When to see a doctor
Mental illnesses mostly do not resolve on their own. If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or mental health professional.
Where you can get help
It is crucial to get help if you are feeling suicidal. Suicidal thoughts do not get better on their own. You can take the following steps:
- Call your local emergency number immediately.
- Call your mental health specialist.
- Use webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
- Seek help from your primary care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
Unfortunately, there is a powerful stigma linked to mental health in Namibia. “Although Namibia on the official level appears to subscribe to the popular mantra that ‘there can be no health without mental health’, a tilt in favour of physical health is still observable in various levels.” (APA, 2017)
Namibia still has a challenge with data on mental illness because of a lack of scientific data collection systems. There is also no formal registry on the prevalence and incidence of mental illnesses in the country. However, the MoHSS reports that in 2014–2015, 6,436 people with a mental health condition were attended to, of which 613 were new cases (Namibian Sun, 2015).
These figures are expected to represent a gross underestimation of the burden of mental health problems in the country because there is a general lack of awareness of mental health, and many people use alternate sources of help such as traditional healers and religious prophets instead of the formal health system.