This conversation needs to be had.
You need to be talking about mental health. In fact, you should have been talking about mental health last month and the month before. But now that those months have passed, there’s no better time to have this conversation than this October.
“It’s time to tell everyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue that they’re not alone, and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”
Why Should We Pay Attention To Mental Health?
1. Mental illness does not discriminate – anyone could have it.
From professionals to students, young or old, regardless of race or wealth, this year, mental illness is expected to be the second highest form of health issue among Malaysians. But many patients choose to fight this battle alone because of perceived stigma. But this does not need to be the case.
One of the reasons why Mental Health needs to be on everyone’s agenda is because it affects so many. According to World Health Organisation, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
2. Mental illness is highly stigmatised
A conversation about mental illness is a difficult one to have. It takes some special thought when it comes to conversing with someone who is experiencing mental illness.
3. Mental health costs Malaysia RM14.46bil or over one per cent of its GDP
This is according to a white paper released by Relate Mental Health Malaysia at its’ forum on the Business Costs of Mental Health.
The study titled ‘Workplace mental health – The business costs’ estimates the total productivity and business costs of mental health problems in Malaysia according to absenteeism, presenteeism (working while unwell) and staff turnover attributable to mental health issues.
Therefore, there’s a real economic impact if a nation’s mental health is not being cared for.
4. There is a lot of misinformation about mental health
Relate Mental Health Malaysia shared that there is a lot of misinformation about mental health. Some of them are shared below:
“Once someone is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.”
FACT: Most people who are considering suicide will only be that way for the short term and it is situation-specific. Given proper assistance and support, they will probably recover and continue to lead meaningful and happy lives unhindered by suicidal concerns.
“Talking about suicide is a bad idea and can be interpreted as encouragement.”
FACT: Most people who are contemplating suicide do not know who to speak to and talking about suicide provides the opportunity for communication. When people share what’s on their minds, it helps them process their fears. When people are listened to, it helps them feel cared for. The first step in encouraging a suicidal person to live comes from them talking about those feelings without feeling judged.
“Once a person is intent on suicide, there is no way of stopping them.”
FACT: Suicides can be prevented. Most people who want to die by suicide do so in crisis. Suicide is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary problem. Immediate practical help such as staying with the person, encouraging them to talk and helping them build plans for the future, can avert the intention to attempt or complete suicide. Such immediate help is valuable at a time of crisis, but appropriate counselling will then be required.
Mental Health Month encourages conversation about mental health throughout the month of October. Take the time to ask a friend how they’re feeling and let’s play our part to destigmatize mental illness.