Celebrated on October 10, the World Mental Health Day was started in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. It aims to be an unified effort to promote greater public awareness and understanding of mental health and mental illness. The theme for the 2010 event follows the motive of last year’s World Mental Health day: Integrated care for those people with coexisting chronic physical and mental illness. A specific focus will be on the relationship of mental health to chronic physical illnesses.
Many people suffer from mental disorders at a given time of their lives. Most of these often related with some common illnesses such as chronic depression, schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorders. However, there is a vast array of mental disorders that fall into the category of rare diseases. For example, Capgras delusion, Münchausen or Tourette, to name a few, are considered to be rare or very rare.
Also, physical and mental health disorders go hand in hand. They may often coexist with chronic illnesses, complicating care and further diminishing quality of life of the afflicted. For example, chronic depression is frequently found.
“Mental illnesses seriously affect our bodies and our social relationships, while physical health problems, especially when severe and protracted, can lead to social isolation and mental illness” said the the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban-Ki Moon in his message on World Mental Health Day. ”We must break down the barriers that continue to exclude those with mental or psychosocial disabilities. There is no place in our world for discrimination against those with mental illness. There can be no health without mental health.’
To celebrate this day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching its Mental Health Gap Intervention Guide. This model guide has been developed for use by health-care providers working in non-specialized health-care settings after adaptation for national and local needs.
What is a mental disorder?
Mental health is defined by the WHO as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
The recognition and understanding of mental health conditions has changed over time and across cultures, and there are still variations in the definition, assessment, and classification of mental disorders, although standard guideline criteria are now widely accepted. A few mental disorders are diagnosed based on the harm to others, regardless of the subject’s perception of distress. Over a third of people in most countries report meeting criteria for the major categories at some point in their life. Stigma and discrimination add to the suffering associated with these disorders.