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UN: Change attitude to mental health, change the world

  • Published at 05:06 am October 10th, 2018
File photo of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Dhaka Tribune

World Mental Health Day Wednesday; focus on young people

The United Nations (UN) is committed to make the world a place where everywhere, everyone has someone to turn to in support of their mental health without facing stigma and discrimination, by 2030.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the comment in a message marking World Mental Health Day that falls on October 10. 

"If we change our attitude to mental health, we change the world," he said in the message. "It is time to act on mental health."

Although health encompasses both physical and mental well-being, mental health is mostly harboured as an afterthought- despite its overwhelming impacts on communities and young people, the UN chief said.

This year's World Mental Health Day focuses on young people. 

This year, one in five young people experienced mental health problems. Half of all mental health conditions start by the age of 14. But most cases remain undetected and untreated. 

Poor mental health during adolescence impacts educational achievement and increases the risk of alcohol or substance abuse, leading to violent behaviour, the secretary-general said.

"Suicide is a leading cause of death in young people," he said. 

Guterres further said, millions of people caught up in conflict and disasters are at the risk of a range of long-term mental health problems. 

Physical, sexual and psychological violence against women results in lasting scars, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But a great deal of mental health conditions is both preventable and treatable, especially if looked at from an early age, Guterres said.

"The 2030 Agenda is clear: We must leave no one behind. Yet, those struggling with mental health problems are still being marginalized." Guterres said.

He said healthy societies require greater integration of mental health into broader health and social care systems, under the umbrella of universal health coverage.

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