Prioritise mental health issues by breaking the silence and stigma

Mental health awareness shouldn't be limited to a month. It's a lifelong commitment, and it's time we treated it as such. [iStockphoto]

Certain groups in our society, such as children, adolescents, veterans, and marginalised communities, face unique mental health challenges due to their circumstances. We need targeted support systems, culturally sensitive care, and specially designed programs to address their specific needs. Inclusive mental health policies can ensure that no one is left behind in receiving the care they need.

Our lawmakers have a crucial role to play in this endeavour. Policymakers should prioritise mental health in legislation and policy-making. This includes mental health parity laws that require insurance coverage for mental health services to be on par with physical health coverage. Additionally, they need to promote policies that address social determinants of mental health, such as poverty, discrimination, and access to affordable housing and education.

There is also a need for continuous research, innovation, and investment in mental health. Future Kenya Demographic and Health Survey should include mental health indicators. Through dedicated research, we can gain a better understanding of mental health conditions, develop more effective treatments, and improve the overall quality of care.

In this digital age, technology can play a transformative role in mental health care. Mental health apps and online support communities can provide additional resources and enhance access to care. They can also help break down barriers of stigma, fear, and isolation, making it easier for individuals to reach out for help.

However, even with the best policies, strategies, and resources, it all comes down to us as individuals. How we react to someone struggling with their mental health can make a significant difference in their journey. Empathy, understanding, and support can mean the world to someone who is feeling isolated and overwhelmed.

In conclusion, mental health awareness shouldn't be limited to a month. It's a lifelong commitment, and it's time we treated it as such. By targeting the stigma, improving access to treatment, promoting prevention strategies, supporting vulnerable groups, incorporating mental health into policies, and fostering research and innovation, we can inch closer to a society where mental health is understood, valued, and prioritised. Let's join hands and make mental health everybody's business.