- Dr Aung Tun (Ministry of Health and Sports)
World Mental Health Day is observed around the world every year on October 10. The day is first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health and World Health Organization supports this initiation through raising awareness on mental health issues using its strong relationships with Ministry of Health and civil society organizations across the world. The theme of World Mental Health Day in 2018 is “Young people and Mental Health in a changing world”.
Specific goal of the 2018 campaign is to bring attention to the issues our youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient.
The Global Burden of Mental Health Problems
Mental Health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems, with different symptoms. However, they are generally characterized by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviours and relationships with others.
The global burden of mental disorders continues to grow with significant impacts on health and major social, human rights and economic consequences in all countries of world.
v 1 in 4 people are affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
v By 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disease burden globally.
v 900,000 persons commit suicide each year. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people.
v 3 out of 4 with severe mental disorders receive no treatment.
v People with Mental Health disorders are exposed to a wide range of human rights violations.
World-wide, approximately 20% of children and adolescents suffer from a disabling mental illness, Anxiety disorders, depression and other mood disorders, and behavioural and cognitive disorders are among the most common mental health problems among adolescents. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders starts by the age of 14.
Every country and culture have children and adolescents struggling with mental health problems. Most of these young people suffer needlessly, unable to access appropriate resources for recognition, support, and treatment. Ignored, these young people are at high risk for abuse and neglect, suicide, alcohol and other drug use, school failure, violent and criminal activities, mental illness in adulthood, and health-jeopardizing impulsive behaviours. Each year, about 4 million adolescents world-wide attempt suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people.
Mental Health Situation in Myanmar
According to Public Health Statistics (2014-2016), mental health problem per 100,000 population in 2016 revealed that 9 person reported with psychosis, 6 person had depression, 7 person showed anxiety and mental retardation, 5 stayed with epilepsy, 120 depend on alcohol.
According to Myanmar Global School based Student Health Survey 2016, in MYANMAR, Overall, 3.6% of students most of the time or always felt so worried about something that they could not sleep at night during the past 12 months. Female students (3.8%) are significantly more likely than male students (3.4%) to most of the time or always feel so worried about something that they could not sleep at night. Overall, 8.5 % of students felt lonely most of the time or always. Female students (9.8 %) are significantly more likely than male students (7.0%) felt lonely most of the time or always. Overall, 9.2 % of students seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months. Female students (10.6 %) are significantly more likely than male students (7.6 %) to seriously consider attempting suicide. Overall, 8.4% of students made a plan about they would attempt suicide during the past 12 months. Female students (11.2%) are not significantly than female students (10.3 %) to seriously consider attempting suicide. Overall, 3.7 % of students have no close friends. Female students (3.7 %) are significantly more likely than male students (3.5 %) to have no close friends. Mental health problems are increasing in Myanmar.
Adolescent Mental Health Promotion and Prevention in Myanmar
The Ministry of Health and Sports and the Ministry of Education of Myanmar jointly are reforming school health programme with a greater emphasis on health promotion and health literacy, environmental health and sanitation, NCD prevention, including mental health, injury and violence prevention. With the support from UNICEF, Ministry of Education has been implementing Skills Based Health Education and Life skills Programme since 2002. Life skills-based Education refers to an interactive process of teaching and learning which enables children and young people to acquire knowledge,attitudes and skills which support the adoption of healthy behaviours such as:taking greater responsibility for their own lives; making healthy life choices; gaining greater resistance to negative pressures; and minimizing harmful behaviours.
With the support of WHO, the comprehensive school health strategy (2017-2022) was developed based on the context of National Health Plan 2017-2022 for younger generation which come from both education and health sector.
With the support of UNFPA, the National strategic plan for Young People’s Health (2016-2020) has been implemented to aim at strengthening the existing policy framework and adolescent health programmes.
Currently, the Ministry of Health and Sports is committed to promoting and maintaining the mental health status of Myanmar people through various health care services including mental health promotion and prevention, with the support and participation of the related ministries and sectors, international and local NGOs and the community as a whole. However, specifically youth-focused mental health promotion and prevention programs under Myanmar Youth Policy should be implemented as joint efforts between Ministry of Health and Sport, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Welfare in collaboration with related ministries.
Continued support and close collaboration from the WHO and other partners are essential in the struggle for mental health promotion in Myanmar. Civil societies at national, regional and international levels are needed to play an important role in contributing to the success of mental health promotion and prevention efforts in Myanmar.
Let’s start today
It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. Mental Health Foundation of UK provides the following 10 practical ways to look after your mental health.
1. Talk about your feeling-Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
2. Keep active-Regular excise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also for a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
3. Eat well-Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
4. Drink sensibly-We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wear off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
5. Keep in touch-There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
6. Ask for Help-None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are there to help you.
7. Take a break-A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
8. Do something you’re good at-What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
9. Accept who you are-We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
10. Care for others -‘Friends are really important… We help each other whenever we can, so it’s a two-way street, and supporting them uplifts me.’ Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.
Ref: 1. Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020),WHO, 2013
2. Myanmar GSHS survey finding, MOHS, 2016
3. Public Health Statistics (2014-2016), MOHS, 2017
4. WHO WMHD package, WHO, 2018
5. How to look after your mental health, Mental Health Foundation, UK, 2018