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Make mental health a priority

Make mental health a priority

By Dr. John Steytler.

The World Health Organisation recognizes World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority. Realizing that this day is coming up, reminded me that I had not written anything about this important subject for a very long time.

This is sadly indicative of how we care for our mental health, or rather how we are neglectful of it. We are so busy with day-to-day things we never make mental health a priority.

Therefore, the focus is on; ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority, this year. We all know Namibia faces many challenges, just keeping your head above water, food on the table, and getting back to normal in a post-pandemic world is hard enough. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the country’s suicide rate between January 2021 and May 2022 stood at 679, comprising 559 men, 91 women, and 29 children. Those are appalling statistics for our small population, saying nothing about lives and families destroyed. What is clear and very shocking is that the vast majority of suicides are amongst men.

How do we find the time to look after our mental health? It is imperative that we make mental health a priority. In Namibia, we suffer from many challenges that developing nations suffer from and sometimes it seems as if there’s no end to the issues. Whether it is GBV, child neglect, alcohol, drug abuse, and far too many suicides. There are many factors that cause these problems, but not dealing with stress and mental health issues in a proper manner is certainly a root cause.

It became vital for my own well-being to re-examine how I approach my life and work; stress and anxiety became a problem. It was only when I started reading up on it that I realized something needed to change for me to find the balance in my life that I was seeking. This was not easy to do, as we are taught as boys, adolescents, and as men, we do not talk about feelings, the pressure that we feel and certainly not being overwhelmed. Rather, we drink our feelings away, or we have mood swings or worse, we end up killing ourselves. As the statistics clearly demonstrate.

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals include Goal Three, which focused on Good Health and well-being. Mental health is a major part of improving well-being, WHO, it is why World Mental Health Day on October 10th, is so important. If we want to create a just and equal and prosperous society, we need to take care of our Mental Health too. This isn’t easy, but there are a few things that can be done to ease the journey to better mental health. I personally try and embrace each of these pointers and they truly have helped me.

– Connect with other people
– Be physically active
– Give and be there for others
– Learn new skills
– Live in the ‘now’ and reflect on what you have and what is going well in your life.

These are just a few suggestions, there are many more ways to improve your mental health but taking these initial steps will already mean that you are making your mental health a priority. That is already a major personal victory.


About The Author

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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.