Let’s dare2talk about it. In all honesty and aim for more awareness and positive impact, let’s keep talking. We recently came across a blog post by a lady in South Africa, called Yve. In her blog called Yve’s Corner, she pondered on how we saw mental illness. This is an excerpt from Yve’s post:
In South Africa, stigma surrounding mental Illness is rife, and with poverty and little education driving change, the role of the support structures is usually weak. Patients may be perceives as ‘lazy’ or the classic one ‘you just don’t want to work’. These types of comments and general dismissive attitudes often result in frustration and distress for the patient. It may escalate, and worsen the condition’s grip on the patient, changing or adding new symptoms and behaviour the doctor now needs to treat.
Yve looks at the three major stakeholders in mental health: Doctor ==> patient ==> family. We think this could definitely be expanded to include others like Teachers, Students, Friends, Communities, Policy Makers, Religious Communities and others we could eventually think of. Even national and international organizations like the WHO, play a big role in what we think about mental illness.
The first step we suggest is awareness and more awareness
When one is not aware of a condition, they can not logically be expected to think about it. Yet, in Cameroon, Africa and probably in other corners of the globe, there still prevails a lot of unawareness. Why we may wonder? Could it be due to the lack of information? Could it be due to the lack of acknowledgement of something going amiss with the patient’s mental health? Could it be due to the ‘doctor’s’ approach to the condition he is faced with? Could it equally be due to some ‘societal norm’?
We wouldn’t go into defining stigma nor saying how it definitely jeopardizes the way we think about mental illness. Bluntly put, those ‘fools’ we see walking up and down our streets are probably largely responsible for their situations. That is how unemphatic stigma can make us think about mental illness. Stigma can equally cause a patient and even a family, to hide their condition and not seek help. Who wants to be treated as a ‘fool’? Who wants to end up chained like this man?
It’s high time we change our thought pattern
The WHO has in the recent years, intensified efforts and publications to raise awareness and provoke policy change in the field of mental health. In a 2010 report on Mental Health and Development, It makes the case for reaching out to this group (mental health consumers) through the design and implementation of appropriate policies and programmes, and through the inclusion of mental health interventions into broader poverty reduction and development strategies.
The Gbm Foundation therefore…
Aims to contribute to such efforts geared at provoking a change in thought pattern within the Cameroonian society, as far as mental illness is concerned. Mental Wellbeing is very important to human functionality, and the least mismanagement of any emotional or traumatic imbalance, coupled with other factors like chemical imbalances in the brain and even genetic predispositions, could trigger a full blown mental illness.
Dear all, let’s seize the opportunity of this mental health awareness month to increase our own awareness of a health condition which could very well befall any of us.