Year Ender 2019

Year ends but mental health awareness continues

Year ends but mental health awareness continues

A man with mental health problem was given a bath. (Antarakalsel/foto/ist) (Antarakalsel/foto/ist/)

Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life
Shortness of breath, disrupted vision, trembling, and a rapid heart rate are among the most common physical manifestations of irrational fear at its peak. The sensation, often referred to as a panic attack, goes deeper into the mind before it shows symptoms that can be physically felt or seen.

Panic attacks are often associated with panic or anxiety disorders, just two among numerous mental conditions that can be disabling when those suffering from them do not receive proper treatments, as they affect one’s mood, thinking pattern, and behavior.

On a global scale this year, the discussions surrounding mental health have taken shape in communities. It is a part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have been adopted by member countries across the globe.

It is specifically mentioned in the SDGs’ Goal 3, which is to "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for ages", target number 3.4; Reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable disease through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being by 2030.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there is no health without mental health and that mental health is more than the mere absence of disorders.

"Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life," the WHO has stated.

Worldwide Observation

Globally, October 10 is observed as the International Mental Health Day. For 2019, the broad theme revolved around the prevention of suicide.

“Close to 800 thousand people die by suicide every year – that is one every 40 seconds. It is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year-olds globally,” the WHO stated regarding the International Mental Health Day.

It revealed that 79 percent of global suicides happen in low and middle-income countries.

“While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis. Other risk factors include the experience of loss, loneliness, discrimination, a relationship break-up, financial problems, chronic pain and illness, violence, abuse, and conflict or other humanitarian emergencies,” it further stated.


Openness in the community is essential in getting the conversation around mental health issues going. At the end of last year, the BBC reported that there are several reasons why people are reluctant to open up about problems regarding mental health.

They worry that others may think differently of them and therefore being treated as if they were, they worry that it may start spewing into rumors that are untrue or that it would trigger people into saying unkind words to them, and/or having their conditions dismissed by other people.

Indeed, the stigma revolving mental health problems have been around for a long time. However, especially this year, many parties have strived to break the barrier, including artists, as they began to integrate mental health topics in their works, including in music.

Indonesian singer Kunto Aji has been one of the artists in the country to actively speak up about mental issues, both in the community and one he had been battling himself.

Aji, who launched his mental-health themed album, Mantra, back in 2018, celebrated its first anniversary on December 18 with one of his well-known concerts he often calls as ‘therapy’ sessions.

In one instance through the year, Aji had also underlined the dangers of self-diagnosis among young people when it comes to mental health problems.

“These days the word ‘depression’ became almost like a trend and it is being thrown around lightly, when in reality, diagnosing such condition can take layers of examination to determine. That could be dangerous,” he said in a panel discussion event, adding that youngsters should seek the help of professionals if they find themselves having trouble to resolve their issues.

In light of maintaining a balance, he also reminded his listeners to take care of themselves through his songs.

All About Balance

In Indonesia specifically, numerous platforms have set up their social media accounts to allow people to get the conversation going. They are not merely geared for those who are facing struggles with mental health issues, but also those who wish to maintain a balance in their overall well-being.

The presence of such platforms can bring both positive and negative impacts. On the one side, they bring awareness towards the importance of taking care of not only physical wellness but also the balance of the psyche.

On the other side, the exposure of symptoms and characteristics of certain mental health problems on social media can, in some cases, lead people to identify themselves with issues they may not suffer in the first place.

In that case, platforms such as Save Yourselves and Riliv provide services that connect its users with clinical psychologists.

Both platforms offer app-based counseling where users can get the benefits of psychological therapy without having to come into the doctor’s office, which means their services are accessible.

They also cost less compared to conventional therapy, making them suitable for those who are dabbling in therapy and yet to have serious concerns regarding their mental health.

Digital platform Save Yourselves had received immense feedback, even though mental health is yet to be prioritized in Indonesia, stated founder of the platform Indri Mahadiraka, in an interview with ANTARA in March.

“We now have 15 to 20 suicide hotline admins and webchat admins in different cities,” she said.

Digital mental health platforms that bring around knowledge, at the same time providing professional help, can be the perfect balance in the bid to raise awareness towards mental health.

Technology is indeed a powerful tool to get the message across and with such balanced formulation between the knowledge and services, the global community can be hopeful for the efforts to raise awareness in the coming years. (INE)

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