The world all over celebrates the International Youth Day which falls on every twelfth day of the month of August since 1999 and this year’s event will be commemorated under the theme ‘Youth and Mental Health’.
This day provides a great opportunity for the world to reflect and revisit the strategies that are employed in glooming the youth who form almost half of the globe’s populace. This is a sect of our society that will lead and ensure sustainable development in the near future. However, there seems to be a beast that affects their individual growth and development – Mental health disorders make up the aforementioned beast that has to be dealt with otherwise there will be no any future for the world.
Youth hood is really tough and we struggle to define ourselves as human beings, while at the same time, we are also constantly trying to find a place where we can fit in as individuals in the communities where we live in. It is during this stage of human life whereby a lot of young people become mentally disturbed due to a number of factors like; stress, alcohol, drug and substance abuse among other factors.
It is also an undeniable fact that young people face a lot of stigma and neglect in each and every day of their lives. The irony is that this happens to be a period in one’s life where you need a lot of support from parents, relatives and community members at large. Without proper guidance, love and care, it is easy for a young person to lose direction at this stage in his or her life.
Furthermore, it goes without saying that when a thing loses its direction, there is no way it can reach its destination and unless proper direction is outlined to it. This is why most bright and promising young people in this world go astray at such a tender age.
It is always heartrending and alarming to hear or notice that a young person is mentally ill and this is a usual feature in our society. This calls for our collective efforts to find out the causes of such scenarios and the world is saying ‘the time is now!’
Just the way we have so many physical illnesses and so are mental illnesses. Mental illnesses are greatly feared and misunderstood by many people. The best way to do away with the misconceptions and the fear of mental maladies that we have, is to simply learn and know them thoroughly. One thing we all have to bear in mind is that mental illnesses are curable and we really need to take a mentally ill person to hospital.
The society tends to perceive mental health disorders as something that directly emanate from the patient’s own doings and therefore people feel that such individuals deserve to be in such a condition as a consequence of their actions. The reason why the society allows to lose bright leaders of tomorrow in such a way is still an enigma which one cannot easily fathom. Some people have reached a point whereby they do not want to hear about this issue thereby forgetting that their transition from youth to adulthood was due to the efforts of some adults.
While the problems of stigma around mental health issues have been known by mental health professionals, very little research has been done to find workable means of addressing the issues that surrounding mental illness stigma.
Lack of accessible mental health facilities coupled with continued stigma puts an even heavier burden on the youth. We are already troubled with the day-to-day struggles and experiences of growing up. There is need for people to realize that as young people, we go through difficult times as we are growing up and all we need is help - we need guidance.
I would like to advocate for a new and comprehensive mental health strategy for young people. There is also a need to confront the factors that perpetrate stigmatization of people who are mentally ill and take necessary measures that can help to ensure that people with mental illnesses should feel understood and accepted.
As we continue to promote the youth’s mental health issues, let us not stop our efforts on 12 August, but we should intensify our works.
Together we can have youths with positive mental health!