World Health Day 2001 A Dedication to Mental Health Issues [Archives:2001/15/Health]

April 9 2001

Prepared by:
Ismail Al-Ghabiry
Yemen Times
Mental health is an integral component of health through which a person realizes his or her own cognitive, affective and relational abilities. With a balanced mental disposition, one is more effective in coping with the stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is better able to make a positive contribution to his or her community. Mental and brain disorders, by affecting mental health, impede or diminish the possibility to reach all or part of the above. Preventing and treating them clears the road to achieving one’s full potential. As mental health is a fundamental building block for human development, we must face the fact that mental health problems are a part of life, and that they can be addressed.
World Health Day 2001 is a global advocacy and awareness-raising activity dedicated to mental health issues. The prime objective is to impact public opinion and stimulate debate on how to improve the current condition of mental health around the world. International attention is thankfully increasing for mental health issues. However, much still needs to be done. No country and no person is immune to mental disorders and their impact in psychological, social and economic terms is very high. Some 400 million people in the world suffer from mental or neurological disorders or from psychosocial problems such as those related to alcohol and drug abuse. Of every four people who turn to the health services for help, at least one is troubled by these disorders which are often not correctly diagnosed and thus not treated. We have solutions to treat many disorders and to permit persons with mental/brain disorder to be functioning members of the community. Yet, societies still raises barriers to both the care and the reintegration of people with mental disorders.
For the purposes of creating awareness about the significance of the Day, WHO plans to highlight the key concerns of care and exclusion as demonstrated by a limited number of disorders: depressive disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, alcohol dependence, epilepsy and mental retardation. The selected disorders are representative world-wide of the gap between available means of intervention and their application for both mental and neurological disorders. Each country/organization will undoubtedly adapt their activities for the World Health Day to focus on any particular mental or brain disorder which has a significant impact in their community, while addressing the increasing need for more care and less exclusion.
The prime objective of the World Health Day is to impact public opinion and stimulate debate on how to improve the current condition of mental health around the world.
All societies need to focus on a reduction in the treatment gap of mental health disorders. Many advances have been made in research regarding the available treatment settings (hospitals, community care, etc) and evidence-based methods for intervention. Meaningful knowledge has been gained on the causation, associations, characteristics and the prevention of mental/brain problems. The benefits of this knowledge have yet to reach all populations, particularly the underprivileged. Many countries are reluctant to effectively address the burden of existing mental health problems through appropriate policy, legislation and services.