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WMH Day: Call to restore hope and dignity

By EMN Updated: Oct 11, 2015 1:01 am

Our Correspondent
KOHIMA, October 10

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, however, people with mental health conditions worldwide continue to be discriminated, stigmatized, marginalized and are also subjected to emotional and physical abuse.
In an effort to raise awareness on what can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions can continue to live with dignity and hope, World Mental Health Day 2015 was observed Saturday under the theme ‘Dignity in Mental Health’. Joining the world community, a solemn function marking the day was held in the premises of the State Mental Health Institute (SMHI) Kohima.Speaking on the theme, SMHI medical superintendent Dr. T Wabang said dignity in mental health includes a reciprocal view between the providers and recipients of care. “Respect and dignity represents an essential component of care which could produce major improvements,” he said.
The health official cited that a person suffering from severe and persistent mental illness can be treated with a range of treatment such as hospitalization, medication, skill building and talk therapy, but these services will be meaningless in the absence of respect and dignity.
Dr. Wabang stated that 6-7% of the general population suffer from mental disorders and one in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural problem or mental condition. He lamented that despite this alarming fact, people with mental health problems continue to face challenges in obtaining proper help and care due to general ignorance and stigma/discrimination.
Stating that many people in the society take mental health problem as a mark of disgrace, and this, he said, restricts affected people from full participation in the society, thus depriving them of their dignity.
“Our people need to know that mental illnesses are like any other physical illnesses. We should know how to recognize mental health problems in a person and how to help them, as getting help in the early stages of any illness usually gives a much better outcome,” the official said. He underscored that there is no drug to enhance dignity and that it has to come from the individual only.
Director Family Welfare, Dr. Watikala, who was the chief guest of the occasion, emphasized on the need to focus on educating the society and create widespread awareness to the people across the state on understanding mental health issues. She pointed out that mental illness is considered as a curse by many people but the reality is that it is like any other illness and 10% out of the world population are affected with mental health issues.
She underscored the need to sensitize the public, families, law enforcers, school teachers, the church and the community in general on how to identify a person/child with mental problems and to promote destigmatization, avoid discrimination and stop segregating those suffering from mental health conditions from the rest of the society. To health care givers, she said their objective should not be limited to medical treatment but also include rehabilitation of patients.
On the implementation of the National Mental Health Program, Dr. Watikala said little has been achieved in the state due to fund constraints but she expressed hope that the gaps could be bridged soon.
NMHP state program officer Dr. Leamnyei Konyak in his brief address highlighted that mental health related services are yet to be started in all the other districts of the state except in Kohima. He informed that district mental health program is likely to be started in Dimapur and Mokokchung in the ensuing year.
Thousands of people with mental health conditions around the world are deprived of their human rights. Poor quality care due to a lack of qualified health professionals and dilapidated facilities leads to further violations.
During the programme, SMHIK patients presented a patriotic song. It was informed that the SMHI Kohima currently has nine patients.

By EMN Updated: Oct 11, 2015 1:01:53 am