Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 200

Today the Nobel Peace Prize has been Awarded and Monday is World Mental Health Day!

According to startling statistics, mental health needs more attention in the United States. How is your mental health today?

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

We can bookend our weekend with 2 major mental health announcements.

Today the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, as well as 2 Russian and Ukrainian human rights organizations. Monday, October 10th, is the annual World Mental Health Day as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). That connection in itself is important because, as the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health.” However, that saying omits how much mental health. We need more. The theme this year is “Making Mental Health and Well-Being for All a Global Priority,” and for all to be a voice about what we need to do. Peace and human rights inevitably contribute to mental health.

Obviously, mental health needs more attention in the United States, as indicated by the astounding recent polls of our deteriorating mental health. A new survey indicates that 90% of adults believe that there is a mental health crisis.1 A poll by the American Psychiatric Association released yesterday conveys that almost 80% agree that more attention to mental health by lawmakers is needed.2 The strike by mental health workers of Kaiser in Northern California continues, and their patients suffer in the meanwhile. Our own burnout rate is up to two/thirds.

But it is not only us. There is evidence of that around the world. Take the recent killing of so many children in a day care mass homicide/suicide in Thailand, while our own rates of gun-related homicides and suicides increased to levels not seen in 3 decades. Take the mental health traumatic toll of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on both countries. Take the 84 million people displaced worldwide, grieving losses, and fearing the unknown. Take the climate change destructiveness. Take the pandemic mental repercussions globally. And more.

With this now special upcoming weekend before Monday, what can be done in preparation? Here’s a possible start:

-Monday, take the chance and remind most anybody you come into contact with—or can contact—that it is World Mental Health Day.

-Convey hope that their mental health and well-being is doing well enough.

-Consider being vulnerable and share your own mental health status.

-Ask them to consider spreading the word to pave the way for making mental health a priority the rest of the year.

-Do whatever you can for peace and human rights.

This is our 200th column, and maybe the most important one. I will try to make this challenge a focus in the coming year, but if you have some ideas of how to make mental health a priority, let us know. I will report on the most innovative and promising suggestions.

So, for now, how is your mental health? Mine seems good enough, as the end of the Jewish High Holy Days of Awe for this year, 5782, reminded me to look for more awe, perhaps more readily available as we come out of the pandemic, having learned not to take too much for granted. I will sign off with: Take and give more mental health!

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

References

1. McPhillips D. 90% of US adults say the United States is experiencing a mental health crisis, CNN/KFF poll finds. CNN. October 5, 2022. Accessed October 7, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/05/health/cnn-kff-mental-health-poll-wellness

2. As midterms approach, 79% of Americans believe mental health is a public health emergency that needs more attention from lawmakers. American Psychiatric Association. October 6, 2022. Accessed October 7, 2022. https://www.psychiatry.org/News-room/News-Releases/Midterms-poll-mental-health-priority