Strengthening our Response -The Asian Age

Tarek Tanvir

The fact that health is incomplete without mental health is often left out of our consciousness. The problem began with 'Rene Decarte' philosophical doctrine of body-mind dualism, which later influenced Western medical science. There was a tendency to look at physical and mental health separately. Over the next half-century of research, it has been shown that physical and mental health is an integrated issue; Excluding one, the other is meaningless.

The World Health Organization made that clear in its 1948 definition of health. But unfortunately in our country, the essential component of health, mental health, is not as important as physical health. In addition, our society has a negative attitude towards the treatment of mental illness, people are ashamed of the treatment, superstitions and social fears.

The World Federation of Mental Health has been conducting a global mental health awareness program since 1992, observing World Mental Health Day every year since 1992. Because, the biggest obstacle in the treatment of mental illness is unconsciousness and negative social attitude. Our educated society still does not understand the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist (the first physician is not the second).

The most surprising thing is that there is a lot of confusion among the general practitioners about the treatment of mental illness. There is negative publicity about the drugs used to treat mental illness. But this drug, like other life-saving drugs, was allowed to be released after following various steps in scientific research. There is no substitute for this drug in most psychiatric treatments.

But psychosocial support also plays an important role in the treatment of mental illness.According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of the world's people die of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases. Two decades of research have shown that such long-term physical illnesses are more likely to lead to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Mental health care requires concerted efforts and the elimination of negative attitudes. It is necessary to increase the medical, manpower, infrastructure and allocation at the initial stage of this service and to build an integrated medical system. In particular, it is necessary to pay attention to children, youth and the disabled who are deprived of mental health care for various reasons.

Mental health is a growing social and health problem not only in Bangladesh but globally. According to the World Health Organization, 13 percent of the world's overall health problems are caused by mental health problems. According to the National Mental Health Survey of Bangladesh, the rate of this problem is 16.7 percent in adults and 13.6 percent in children. Among the elderly mentally handicapped, 92.3 percent are deprived of psychiatric treatment for various reasons. 94.5 percent of the mentally handicapped children and adolescents are out of the reach of medical services.

Of the children and adolescents who receive treatment for mental retardation, 29.2 percent have incomplete treatment. We want to improve this situation. It is not possible for anyone alone. Everyone has to work from their position. In some cases, we have to work in a coordinated manner. The situation will improve with the joint efforts of all.

The mission-vision of the Ministry of Health is health for all. GEO-NGO's need to work together to raise awareness. Otherwise, the problem will be more serious.Mental health services are very low in the country. Of these, only 10 percent are for children. 94% of children are not getting services for mental problems. Mental health problems cannot be helped by counseling just one part.

The community needs to come together for the overall improvement of mental health. It is important to target why the problem is happening. Whether it is a birth defect, whether the child is getting help from the parents, whether they are getting their rights - mental health problems cannot be reduced if they cannot work in these places. Poverty is not a problem here - many times the bond is strong even in poor families. Emphasis should be placed on working with the family environment. All that is needed is initiative.

Mental health is also one of the eight sustainable development goals. If we can achieve this, we can achieve SDG. The latest mental health survey found that 7-8 percent of people seek mental health treatment. The rest do not take. At one time, 80 percent of those who received medical treatment were victims of malpractice. However, now 80 percent of the patients are receiving mainstream treatment. This has created a tide - are we ready for this? If we can't provide services, ordinary people will turn to malpractice again.

It is not possible to improve the quality of public health services without mental health. For this, it is necessary to extend the hand of cooperation by realizing the importance of the issue at the level of public awareness and policy making of the government. The Mental Health Act was passed in 2018, almost five decades after independence. Therefore, this time on World Mental Health Day, our expectation is that the government as a whole will ensure the human rights of the people in mental health care by implementing this law which will further brighten our image in the world as a nation.

Tarek Tanvir is a Student & young writer University of Chittagong