On World Mental Health Day 2023, the focus is on recognizing mental well-being as an inherent human right. Despite the progress we’ve made, mental health still remains a taboo subject for some. Nevertheless, the efforts our country has taken in openly discussing it are truly commendable.
What is the World Mental Health Day 2023 Theme?
This year’s Mental Health Day centers around the theme “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right.” This theme emphasizes that mental health is indeed essential for everyone, challenging the stigma often associated with discussing it.
Furthermore, the theme signifies that everyone deserves access to mental health support programs and activities, including symposiums, conferences, and workshops. Even therapy and other related treatments should be normalized as effective means of improving one’s mental health.
What is Mental Health?
A typical person may hear the term ‘mental health’ and have various definitions in mind. Typically, it is associated with disorders or, at times, stigmatizing stereotypes, such as insanity and lunacy. These associations reflect the unfortunate reality of how mental health has been a sensitive topic in societies for many years. Rarely do people consider mental health on par with physical health. If they did, they would prioritize their mental well-being just as they do their physical health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health.
Contrary to what most people may think, our mental health should indeed be maintained at the highest attainable standard, as the WHO emphasizes. Our mental health determines how we cope with life’s challenges and obstacles. It also helps how we operate emotionally and socially, which is of profound importance to every individual within society.
With a good mental health condition, one can function effectively, stay motivated, and have a strong sense of purpose in life. They can enjoy life’s pleasures and maintain emotional control. You would know it in the way they light up the room with their presence, and just basically how they carry themselves with so full of life and self-assurance.
Identifying Declining Metal Health
However, identifying declining mental health can be rather challenging, as some individuals with the biggest smiles may hide it well. Here are the symptoms of declining mental health based on an article by Jack Nolan in June 2023.
- Lack of self-care/personal hygiene
- Increase in symptoms and their severity (e.g. magnified cases of anxiety)
- Feeling depressed
- Self punishment (could range from negative self-talk to self-harm)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained mood shift
- Feelings of guilt
- Fluctuating change in weight
- Excessive sleep or lack thereof
- Depleted energy levels
- Physical symptoms (unexplainable pains and aches)
Ultimately, one of the most severe consequences of unaddressed deteriorating mental health can be suicide. Just last year, a series of suicide attempts in Cagayan de Oro city raised public alarm, highlighting the pressing need to prioritize mental-wellbeing. Furthermore, suicide prevention remains a crucial topic in addressing one’s mental well-being.
In an article by Devon Frye in 2019, she shared seven (7) simple steps for suicide prevention:
1. Do not be fearful of inquiring about suicidal thoughts.
2. Be aware of the 12 suicide warning signs according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Feeling like a burden
- Being isolated
- Increased anxiety
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Increased substance use
- Looking for a way to access lethal means
- Increased anger or rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Expressing hopelessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Talking or posting about wanting to die
- Making plans for suicide
3. Know what suicidal ideation sounds like.
4. Recognize and understand the nature of their impulsivity.
5. Know the most common means of suicide for ages 10 to 24.
6. Have crisis resources on hand and share them with your family.
7. In the event of a tragedy, reach out to local media outlets and encourage them to report suicide responsibly.
Suicide Prevention Hotlines
Moreover, here are some of the suicide prevention hotlines in the Philippines:
Hopeline is a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis support helpline in the Philippines.
PLDT: (02) 804-4673
Globe: (0917) 558-4673
Toll-free for Globe/TM: 2919
In Touch Community Services offers 24/7 free and confidential support to people in the Philippines.
Tel: 8937603 (telephone)
Tel: 09178001123 (cellphone)
The National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline
The National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline offers 24-hour service to people in the Philippines who are depressed or at risk of suicide.
Tel: (02) 989-8727(telephone)
Tel: (0917) 899-8727 (cellphone)
Manila Lifeline Centre (MLC)
Manila Lifeline Centre (MLC) is a tele-counseling hotline that focuses on suicide prevention, awareness, and support.
Tel: (02) 896-9191
Tel: 0917 854-9191
RAPHA Helpline offers support to people across the Philippines who are suicidal or in crisis. The helpline is accessible from Mondays to Fridays 8 AM – 5 PM.
Breaking Free from the Outdated Stigmas
It takes courage to acknowledge that you are experiencing a decline in your mental health. More often than not, there are many people who are suffering, or have at least brushed against the feeling of suffering, far more than you might ever realize. The next time you feel alone, remind yourself that this could be the greatest deception you tell yourself. Everyone is going through something at some point, and all they may need is someone to talk to or lean on.
The simplest gestures, like offering a smile to a stranger or performing acts of kindness, can make a significant impact. These small actions have the power to lift someone’s mood, change their day, and even save a life.
Never be ashamed of working towards better mental health. Always remember that mental health is a universal human right.
Happy World Mental Health Day, brave one!
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