"Prevention is better than cure." This was the motto with which the Department of Social Work and Student Affairs of Coimbatore Campus celebrated World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2015. At 4pm on that day, the team which comprised of the BTech and MSW students performed a flash mob dance and a mime on student mental health at four roads in the campus. The crowd gathered slowly and swayed to the music. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the onlookers. Awareness handouts were distributed to students and observers. This was a small initiative to promote mental health among the Amrita fraternity and beyond.
World Mental Health day is celebrated all around the world on October 10th every year. The theme for this year was “Dignity in Mental Health.” Rightly put, as mental illness is treated as a taboo in many parts of the world. The mentally ill are excluded and put away from the main stream of life. World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
Statistics suggest that two in ten people have a mental health issue during their life time. Twenty per cent need interventions. five to ten per cent have moderate disorders. Six per cent need medication. The statistics are not good. More alarming is the poor state of mental health facilities in India. Only one per cent of beds are set aside for mental health that is, 0.25 beds per 10,000 population. Psychiatrists are available at 0.21% per 1 lakh population. Facilities are overcrowded, understaffed and patients are often subjected to cruel treatment. Things are changing, but at a snail pace.
At the heart of mental health is a focus on prevention, because the best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. For example, by providing the right information, guidance and support in childhood and adolescence, the chances of developing mental health problems can be reduced for millions of people over a lifetime.
This focus on prevention is in part about what we can all do to safeguard our well being, but is also about tackling the social and economic inequalities that can lead to a higher prevalence of mental health problems. We in the Amrita Social Work School believe that effectively supporting people experiencing mental health problems is on target to become one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.