Mental Health Awareness is something that can help the millions of people who are impacted by mental health conditions across the globe. It should be considered as any other illness. Month of May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness month ,the sole purpose is to help people with mental illnesses understand that they are not alone in their struggle and that getting treatment can make all the difference. If we apply this approach to mental health every day of the year, more and more people could benefit from knowing about these common illnesses.
The difference in the quality of medical care received by people with mental illness is one of the reasons why they live shorter lives than people without mental illness. Even in the best-resourced countries in the world, this life expectancy gap is as much as 20 years. In the developing countries of the world, this gap is even larger. But of course, mental illnesses can kill in more direct ways as well. The most obvious example is suicide. Suicide is at the top of the list of the leading causes of death in young people in all countries in the world, including the poorest countries of the world. But beyond the impact of a health condition on life expectancy, we are also concerned about the quality of life lived.
We need to use a matrix called DALY , Disability-Adjusted Life Year.
The Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) and the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) are two popular health status indices, used to measure health outcomes based on the duration and quality of life for an individual. The QALY was the first developed health status index, and is mostly used in developed countries. A QALY is defined as a year lived in perfect health.
Both metrics use a scale of 0-1 to represent the quality of life:
- QALY: “0” is equivalent to death; “1” represents perfect health.
- DALY, “0” represents perfect health; “1” equates to death.
I am sharing this just to understand that by this calculation we can discover which populations are living with the greatest health burden, and prioritize those areas for future health interventions.
After Daly calculation some startling things about mental illness from a global perspective has been discovered. For example, mental illnesses are amongst the leading causes of disability around the world. Depression, for example, is the third-leading cause of disability, alongside conditions such as diarrhea and pneumonia in children. When you put all the mental illnesses together, they account for roughly 15 percent of the total global burden of disease. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly four to five hundred million people living on our tiny planet who are affected by a mental illness. But consider for a moment the incredible diversity of mental illnesses, from autism and intellectual disability in childhood, through to depression and anxiety, substance misuse and psychosis in adulthood, all the way through to dementia in old age, and I’m pretty sure that each and every one of us can think of at least one person, in our most intimate social networks. What’s truly important from a global health point of view, is that the vast majority of these affected individuals do not receive the care that we know can transform their lives, and remember, we do have robust evidence that a range of interventions, medicines, psychological interventions, and social interventions, can make a vast difference. And yet, even in the best-resourced countries, roughly 50 percent of affected people don’t receive these interventions. treatment gap reaches approaches an astonishing 90 percent.
It is quite surprising that when I meet people who are affected by mental illness, I hear stories of hidden suffering, shame and discrimination. It is this injustice that makes me do a little bit to transform the lives of people affected by mental illness, and want to bridge the gap between the care provided and their illness.
In India or I can say in the world we face immense shortage of mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychologists. Can we do anything about it. Yes, we can ? There is something called as Task Shifting. Now the idea of task shifting in global health is , when we see a shortage of specialized health care professionals, we can train whoever is available in the community to provide a range of health care interventions. As you know in our country mid wives are trained in a complex task like delivering babies than why can’t we train ordinary people for mental health interventions.
There are five ways in which this task shifting can be done
- Simplify the message by avoiding all the jargons that medicine has invented around itself.
- Simplify healthcare interventions that can be easily transferred to less trained individuals.
- Deliver healthcare not in large institutions but close to people’s home.
- Deliver health care using whoever is available and affordable in our local communities.
- Reallocate few specialists who are available to perform roles such as capacity building and supervision.
Task shifting is not just significant for developing countries but has equal importance for developed nations. In developed counties the cost for health care is rapidly increasing and a huge chunk of those cost are human resource and secondly health care has become incredibly professionalized that it’s become very remote and removed from local communities. Therefore task shifting will not just make health care more affordable and accessible but can proved to be fundamentally empowering. This way ordinary people will become more effective in caring for health of others but will become guardian of their own health.
Therefore, it is important that health care advocate and professionals should stand together with people who are suffering from mental health illness so that they can receive the health care that can transform their lives and can live with dignity.
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