#WorldMentalHealthDay: Raising awareness on mental health issues globally

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According to the World Health Organisation, Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job.

For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension. However, in some cases, if not recognised and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to risky behaviours such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Eating disorders are also of concern.

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Growing recognition of the importance of building mental resilience

Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience, from the earliest ages, in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to economies and society, with healthy young adults able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities and society as a whole.

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Prevention begins with better understanding

 

The Health Professions Council of South Africa says the prevention of mental health illnesses begins with being aware and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of the illness. The Professional Board’s commemorations will include an awareness  campaign to the South African public on mental health issues. The campaign is intended to empower  communities to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health illness, formed by misconceptions.

Stigma about mental illness delays or prevents the seeking of treatment by sufferers due to fear of being ostracised by communities. To this end, the Professional Board for Psychology will be embarking on a series of educational programmes and discussions, on various media platforms, to raise awareness in our communities. During this month of October, the Professional Board for Psychology will make the public aware of the role and scope of the various categories within the psychology profession. This is to clear existing confusion in the public about the various psychological professionals and services they provide and to facilitate appropriate access for people with mental health needs.

  AUTHOR
Mpumalanga News

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