World Mental Health Day is observed annually on October 10 by the World Health Organization. The World Federation for Mental Health has chosen “Make mental health and wellness for all” as the theme of World Mental Health Day in 2022. Knowing that this day is approaching made me remember that I hadn’t written anything about this significant topic in a very long time. This is regrettably typical of how we take care of—or rather, how we disregard—our mental health. We never prioritize mental wellness because we are too occupied with daily tasks.
As a result, this year’s theme is “Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.” We are all aware of the numerous difficulties Namibia faces; it is difficult enough to keep one’s head above water, put food on the table, and return to normal in a post-pandemic environment. The Ministry of Health and Social Services reported that 679 people committed suicide in the nation between January 2021 and May 2022, including 559 men, 91 women, and 29 children. For our small population, those are terrible statistics that don’t even mention the lives and families that have been devastated. The fact that men commit suicide in such high numbers is obvious and startling.
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 reexamine 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.