Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Minding Mental Health

On the positive side, the global community’s understanding of different mental illnesses have grown by leaps and bounds. Unlike in the early centuries where mentally-impaired patients were either tortured, imprisoned, or killed on the wrong belief that the person was possessed by evil spirits, there is now a growing awareness that people suffering from mental disability needs treatment and care.

And now, for the not-so good news. Despite the advancements in the fi eld of mental health, a large percentage of the global population still has no access to treatment and care. In addition, the number of people suffering from certain mental illnesses is expected to sharply rise in the years to come. These issues are discussed in the editorial, “Untangling the mental haywire,” which also looks into the relatively new phenomenon of Internet addiction.

Suicide is a pressing mental health concern and this is discussed in the article “Intended death: a look at suicidal behavior.” The sidebar shows how health workers and advocates can tap the media in preventing suicides, not just in providing the public with information but also through the responsible coverages of suicide cases.

In conflict-ridden areas, much of the intervention focuses on the physical health of the civilians, but the article “The hidden battlefi eld” shows a neglected area of concern - mental health. The article details how the stressors generated by wars affect the mental health of both the civilians and combatants.

“Community-based mental health programs: back to basics” shows how the implementation of community-based programs can help bridge the treatment gap in developing countries.

It provides tips on how to implement a community-based program, as well as examples from three countries which have tapped the involvement of the community and the family in caring for a patient.

The last article, “Crash and burn” looks into the mental health of NGO staff and humanitarian aid workers, whose needs have been largely overlooked as they go about the business of helping other people.

Source: Issue No. 14, Health Alert Asia Pacific
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