Let’s talk about Mental Health on World Suicide Prevention Day
World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on September 10 each year, is a day dedicated to raising awareness about the global issue of suicide and promoting actions that can reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts worldwide. Here are some reasons why this day is observed:
1. Raise Awareness: This day helps to increase public awareness about the prevalence of suicide, its devastating effects, and the need for preventive measures. It’s a day to educate communities about the signs of suicide and how to respond.
2. Promote Dialogue: It encourages open conversations about suicide, helping to reduce the stigma associated with it. This can make it easier for those struggling to seek help.
3. Support and Solidarity: It’s a day to show support for those who have lost someone to suicide or are struggling with suicidal thoughts. It’s a reminder that they are not alone and that help is available.
4. Promote Preventive Measures: It’s an opportunity to share resources and strategies for suicide prevention. This includes promoting mental health services, crisis centres, and other support systems.
5. Policy and Change: It’s a day to advocate for policy changes that can help prevent suicides, such as improved mental health services and support for those at risk.
Remember, if you or someone you know is struggling, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional or a trusted person in your life. Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is also available 24/7 for immediate support. Arogya Sahayavani 104, the Karnataka state government’s health helpline, handled 42.6 lakh calls pertaining to mental health issues since its inception in 2013, preventing 2,062 suicides and providing counselling in nearly 7,000 cases of depression.
On this World Suicide Prevention Day, let’s remember that every life is precious. Mental health matters and it’s okay to ask for help. Reach out, listen, and support each other. You are not alone, and there are resources available to help. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Together, we can create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.
Understanding Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation
1. Anxiety: Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders can lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behaves, also causing physical symptoms. To manage anxiety, professionals suggest regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication can also be effective.
2. Depression: Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. Professionals suggest seeking help from a mental health expert who may recommend psychotherapy, medication, or both. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining social connections can also help manage depression.
3. Suicidal Ideation: Suicidal ideation refers to thoughts of ending one’s own life. It ranges from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans. This is a serious issue and anyone experiencing these thoughts should seek help immediately. Mental health professionals can provide support through therapy and medication. It's also important to stay connected with loved ones and to engage in activities that make you feel better.
Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, and there are resources and people who want to help. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and there is no shame in seeking assistance.
Creating awareness and understanding mental health issues
Access to mental health resources can be a significant challenge. Here are a few ways this issue can be addressed:
1. Increase Awareness: Many people in these countries may not understand mental health issues or may stigmatize them. Increasing awareness about mental health can help reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help when needed.
2. Train Community Health Workers: In many places, there may not be enough mental health professionals. Training community health workers in basic mental health care can help bridge this gap.
3. Leverage Technology: Teletherapy and online resources can make mental health support accessible to people even in remote areas.
4. Government Policies: Governments can play a crucial role by incorporating mental health into public health policies and ensuring adequate funding for mental health services.
5. Collaboration: Collaborating with international organizations and NGOs can help bring resources and expertise to areas where they are needed most.
Remember, everyone deserves access to mental health care, no matter where they live.
Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.
Necessary conversations and positive actions
It’s important to discuss this topic with sensitivity. Here are some strategies that mental health professionals often recommend for managing suicidal thoughts:
1. Seek Professional Help Immediately: If someone is having suicidal thoughts, it’s crucial they reach out to a mental health professional. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a licensed counsellor. They can provide immediate help and create a long-term plan.
2. Connect with Others: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or support groups. Feeling connected and understood can reduce feelings of isolation.
3. Use a Crisis Line: In moments of intense distress, a crisis line can provide immediate support.
4. Create a Safety Plan: This involves identifying triggers that lead to suicidal thoughts, strategies for managing them, and people to reach out to in crisis moments.
5. Take Care of Physical Health: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can improve mood and energy levels.
6. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: These can help manage stress and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
7. Limit Alcohol and Avoid Drugs: These substances can increase vulnerability to suicidal thoughts.
8. Follow Treatment Plan: If a person has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, it’s important to follow the treatment plan outlined by their healthcare provider.
Remember, reaching out to a mental health professional is essential if experiencing suicidal thoughts. They can provide the necessary help and resources.
Trust, faith, and hope – The spiritual bedrock
Absolutely, a strong spiritual foundation can indeed serve as a significant source of strength and resilience during challenging times. Spirituality often provides a sense of purpose and meaning, which can be particularly helpful when navigating life’s difficulties. Here are some ways spirituality can support mental health:
1. Sense of Purpose: Spirituality often involves a search for meaning, which can provide a sense of purpose and direction in life. This can help individuals to see beyond their immediate pain and struggles and foster a broader perspective.
2. Connectedness: Many spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of community and connectedness, both with others and with the world around us. This sense of belonging can provide a strong support network during tough times.
3. Coping Strategies: Spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, or mindfulness can be effective coping strategies. They can promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance psychological well-being.
4. Hope and Optimism: Many spiritual beliefs include the concept of life after death, divine support, or ultimate justice, which can provide hope and optimism even in the face of severe difficulties.
5. Forgiveness: Some spiritual traditions encourage practices such as forgiveness and letting go of resentment, which can lead to improved mental and emotional well-being.
6. Charity and Altruism: Spirituality often encourages acts of kindness, compassion, and service, which can boost mood and overall mental health.
However, it’s important to note that spirituality is a personal journey and can mean different things to different people. For some, it might involve participation in organized religion, while for others, it might mean seeking a personal relationship with the divine or finding peace in nature.
While spirituality can provide a strong support system, it’s also essential to seek professional help when dealing with severe emotional distress or suicidal thoughts. Spirituality can complement but should not replace professional mental health treatment.
Creating awareness – the medium, means, and methods
Media, including movies and arts, can indeed have a significant impact on shaping perceptions, especially in young minds. While they can inspire and educate, they can also sometimes portray an unrealistic or glamorized view of life, which can lead to distorted expectations and perceptions.
When it comes to sensitive topics like suicide, media portrayal can be particularly influential. It’s important that such topics are handled with care to avoid romanticizing or trivializing the issue. Misrepresentation can contribute to misunderstandings about mental health and suicide, potentially leading to harmful consequences.
However, the media can also play a positive role in raising awareness about mental health issues and suicide prevention. By portraying these topics accurately and sensitively, media can help to break down stigma, encourage open conversation, and promote help-seeking behaviour.
For young children, parental guidance is crucial in helping them understand and interpret what they see in the media. Parents and educators can use these portrayals as a starting point for important conversations, helping children to distinguish between the realities and the illusions of media portrayals.
Remember, if a child seems to be struggling, it’s important to connect them with a mental health professional. It’s always better to be safe and seek help.
For more information. Reach out to the author Antony Sajeeth founder and Director of Needuva Hrudhaya Foundation an NGO working in the field of education and healthcare, creating awareness on affordable services.