Take youth mental health seriouslyThursday, October 21, 2021
The discourse surrounding mental health remains quite relevant among the youth in our society today.
This idea stems from the fact that individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 are deemed to be most vulnerable/susceptible to experiencing one form or the other of mental illness at some point in their youth.
Oftentimes we tend to centre these conversations on the fact that mental health is important and it is the lesser-privileged citizens who experience it, but have we ever thought about it on the basis of accessibility and availability of treatment and other services?
According to the Centre of Community Health and Development, accessibility is creating an environment that can be used by all people without restriction, while, on the other hand, availability refers to the quality of being able to be used or obtained easily.
Despite it being a prominent topic of conversation, mental illness is not really seen or treated as something serious, and this therefore causes victims to self-diagnose and become afraid to access treatment within public health-care facilities due to the various societal inclinations and stigma that are attached to the disease.
Likewise, we have borne witness to the huge number of tertiary students who make constant complaints about being overwhelmed or pressured during school, and this is a matter of grave importance.
Up to 75 per cent of people with mental illnesses start experiencing symptoms before they are 24. Additionally, adolescents experience individual- and community-level barriers, such as poor mental health literacy, lack of wareness of available resources, a preference for self-reliance, concerns regarding confidentiality or anonymity, scepticism about resource effectiveness, and stigma.
Mental health is not selective as to who its victims are, and we have seen a change in the narrative, in which not only adults are being affected by this issue, but more so a very large number of the youth population.
There needs to be a radical change in how society views and addresses mental illness.
It is evident enough that the Government is not doing much to promote mental health services to stakeholders and that is why we have such a huge prevalence of youth victims not accessing treatment or worse – not knowing that they are, in fact, suffering from mental illness.
The Government can and must do more.
In the same way focus is placed on COVID-19, HIV, fitness, and physical well-being, etc, the same can be done for mental health.
It is time we rid ourselves of the societal biases that exist in regard to what we choose to promote and market within the public health-care sector. Mental illness is as important as any other disease.
And, in order to further achieve development, we have to remember that the mind is one of man's greatest faculties. We need to take care of it.