BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - AS St. Kitts and Nevis joined the rest of the world to recognize October 10 as World Mental Health Day, Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew is batting for the end to stigma attached to the ailment.
First recognized in 1992, the day is used to raise awareness and provide education on the ailment which has and still can affect many people across the world.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the ailment has been thrust more into the spotlight because of the impact the virus had on many households.
In recognizing the challenges of the ailment, the medical practitioner called for more awareness to be raised surrounding the sensitivity of the issue.
Mental health challenges are some of the most common health issues people face (depression, stress etc), but the stigma attached to it is what hinders persons from seeking the help they need.
Many moons before he became the Federation’s Prime Minister, Dr. Drew had been using his platform to raise awareness to the ailment and is still continuing to champion the cause for its recognition.
This year's day was recognized under the theme “Make mental health for all a global priority”. And it is against this backdrop that he noted “it is critical that we raise awareness of mental health issues and lend support where necessary”.
“I understand the significance of preserving one’s mental health and that is why I have made it a priority to support initiatives that promote mental wellbeing to create a positive environment that empowers and motivates our people.
“The idea is to educate our people and create an attitude change that brings awareness to mental wellness through the importance of self-care…pay attention to your diet, exercise, meditate, strive for balance in your life. It is important to care for your mind, just as it is important to care for your body,” Drew added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cited depression as being one of the causes of disability and suicide as the fourth leading cause of death among people within a specific age range.
“Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely – as much as two decades early – due to preventable physical conditions.”
WHO noted that despite progress around the world, some countries are still experiencing “discrimination and stigma”.
The Health Organization also noted that many mental health conditions could be effectively treated at relatively low cost, yet the gap between people needing care and those with access to care remain substantial, adding that “effective treatment coverage remains extremely low”.