Normally, when people talk about health, they mean physical health. But there is no health without mental health. According to the World Health Organisation, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely absence of disease or infirmity. When we have a minor physical problem, we rush to the doctor. But if it is a case of mental problem, we fail to recognise it. Even if we recognise it, we do not seek immediate medical help. We waste our time going to faithhealers. A lot of times, money and labour are wasted before the case reaches a psychiatrist’s clinic.
At the state level too, there is discrimination between physical and mental health. Only a nominal budget allocation is made for mental health. There is only one government hospital that is solely meant for treating the mentally ill, which is far from sufficient. Thus the government has failed to recognise the importance of mental health. It does not acknowledge that there is no health without mental health.
In Nepal, lack of knowledge about mental diseases is another main hindrance that has prevented people from enjoying complete health. It is necessary to educate people about mental diseases. Just as there are hundreds of physical diseases, there are many mental diseases too. Because of ignorance, people put all mental problems under one category, that is depression. Of course, depression is one of the major mental problems, but all mental diseases are not depression. To make people knowledgeable about mental health, it should be included in the school and college curriculums. Students should be taught that there is no health without mental health.
Just as timely intervention is important in the case of physical diseases, mentally ill people also need right and timely treatment. For this, mental health facilities should be available at the local level. The cost of treatment should be within the reach of poor people. Expensive medicines should be subsidised. The medicines used in the treatment of severe mental diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder should be made available free of cost. Measures like this will help the people to attain complete well-being.
There are some severely mentally ill people who wander the streets of cities like Kathmandu. The government should take immediate action for the treatment and rehabilitation of such people. Scenes of such people searching for food amid heaps of garbage is simply unbearable for any civilised human being. Proper treatment, love and care can turn most of them back to normal human beings. As long as there are mentally ill people covered in rags wandering the streets of the cities, we citydwellers cannot call ourselves healthy and civilised. We should not forget our duty towards our fellow human beings.Published: 2018-07-12 08:28:56