Mental Health Day 2023: In the grand symphony of human rights discussions, our focus has long been attuned to the basic essentials - the bread on the table, a roof over our heads, and access to healthcare. But let's take a moment to embrace a paradigm shift and explore the profound connection between mental well-being and the tapestry of life itself. It's time to herald mental health as an undeniable cornerstone of our overall well-being and celebrate it as a fundamental human right.
This year's World Mental Health Day carries a resounding theme, one that resonates in the hearts of millions: "Mental Health is a Universal Human Right." The stage is set for the World Health Organization (WHO), Member States, and dedicated partners to unite in a clarion call for action, framed within the prism of human rights.
According to the WHO, mental health is not merely the absence of mental disorders but a state of well-being where individuals harness their capabilities, conquer life's challenges, lead productive lives, and enrich their communities. This perspective aligns seamlessly with the broader concept of human rights, emphasizing not just freedom from harm but also the freedom to flourish.
Picture this: every individual, regardless of where they stand on the globe, their occupation, or their identity, possesses an unassailable right to attain the highest echelons of mental well-being. This extends to protection from mental health hazards, seamless access to top-tier mental healthcare, and the freedom to actively engage in their communities.
Mental health isn't just an isolated island in the vast ocean of our lives; it's a mighty continent intertwined with various aspects such as education, employment, housing, and social participation. The strength of one's mental well-being is the lighthouse guiding the ship to the safe harbor of their rights, like the right to education or the right to work. When mental health is safeguarded, individuals are empowered to become architects of positive change within society's walls.
But to cement mental health as a universal human right, we need more than just words; we need a seismic shift in attitudes and governmental policies. Sweeping measures are essential to protect communities from mental health pitfalls stemming from issues like climate change, humanitarian crises, and the harrowing inequalities of poverty. The first step on this transformative journey involves raising awareness and educating the public. Together, we can break down the walls of stigma that imprison mental health issues in silence.
Discrimination and stigma have long been the formidable gatekeepers that deter individuals from seeking the help and support they deserve. Moreover, mental health services and facilities should be the birthright of every individual, regardless of their socioeconomic status, their geographical coordinates, or any other circumstances that might otherwise divide.
Yet, despite the undeniable significance of mental health for our well-being, a somber truth hangs over us: one in seven people in the WHO South-East Asia Region grapple with mental health conditions. Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders, as well as self-harm, cast shadows over 23% of all the years lived with disability in this region. Anxiety and depressive disorders, like silent shadows, haunt nearly half of all individuals living with mental disorders in the WHO South-East Asia Region, transcending gender lines.
With unwavering determination, the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office, alongside its devoted partners, stands as the beacon in the tempest. The Paro Declaration, penned by the Health Ministers of Member States during the Seventy-fifth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia, underscores the significance of a people-centered approach to mental health care and services, rooted in human rights principles. As we navigate the uncharted waters ahead, the newly launched WHO Mental Health Action Plan for the WHO South-East Asia Region, spanning from 2023 to 2030, shines a spotlight on the core principle of gender equity in planning and implementing mental health programs and services.
In this evolving saga, let's remember that we're not just breaking the shackles that hold back minds; we're setting them free to soar and embrace their rightful place in the tapestry of human rights. Mental health is not just a piece of the puzzle; it's the canvas on which our human rights are painted. Together, let's paint a world where mental health is not just a right but a cherished reality for all.