World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October every year, with the objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. World Federation for Mental Health founded the awareness day in 1992 to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Mental disorders are leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. According to World Health Organization (WHO) around 450 million people suffer from mental disorders globally. One in four people in the world is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Mental health problems account for about 16% of global burden of disease in people aged 10-19 years. World Mental Health Day 2018 focuses on “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”.
Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting college, university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times and in some cases, it can be times of stress and apprehension. The increasing use of online technologies with many benefits has also brought additional pressure to this age group, however if not recognized and managed, these stresses can lead to mental illness.
Mental health problems in young adults:
Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to risky behaviours such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Eating disorders are also of concern. If untreated, these conditions influence children’s development, their educational attainment, and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives.
Prevention begins with better understanding:
As about 356 million people in India are between the ages of 10 to 24 years; India, is a young country, with about 30% of its population being youth. Prevention and management of mental distress among adolescents and young adults should begin from an early age by increasing awareness and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness.
Parents and teachers can help build life skills of children and adolescents to help them cope with everyday challenges at home and at school such as by enhancing social skills, problem-solving skills and self-confidence. Efforts should be focused on creating and developing resources and services that allow young adults to feel connected and empowered. Psychosocial support can be provided in schools and other community settings and by trained health workers who can detect and manage mental health disorders. Promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, but also to society and country as healthy young adults are able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities and society as a whole.
National activities to support mental health:
National Mental Health Programme*: Government of India has been implementing National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) since 1982 to ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all with its key implementation unit- District Mental Health Programme. The aim is to integrate mental health care in to primary health care and to proceed towards community health care.
The National Mental Health Policy announced in October, 2014 and Mental Healthcare Act 2017 also act to strengthen mental health services in India.
Adolescent reproductive and sexual health programme (ARSH) under National Health mission (NHM) provides various health services related to young adults.
The Government of India has several national and international programs and has various schemes and initiatives at the national level (National Social Service Scheme, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, National Youth Policy 2014) that outline pathways for positive youth development.