It’s a new year, the buzzing word is “goledzwa” or “ngwaga o mosha”. This period has a bearing on people’s mental health in various ways. Some are gearing up for the year ahead whilst others are stuck in the disappointments of the previous years. The two situations inter alia poses direct consequences for mental health.
Those bracing gigantically for the New Year often set themselves for certain accomplishments. Setting resolutions is a welcome phenomenon but the crux of the matter is that they should be realistic and attainable. The problem comes about when we are unable to meet such expectations as we may start self-loathing about the failures. This often is a precursor to development of most mental health problems especially when the failure is not addressed effectively. As summed up by Andrew Carnegie, “if you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”
It is quite critical for us not to wallow in the disappointments of the previous year as we surge into 2019. Disappointments harbours sadness, anger, anxiety and resentment which are cardinal features of most mental health problems. Depression and suicides are problems that most often than not are linked to failure to deal effectively with disappointments and failures. A good lesson can be of Nelson Mandela’s life in relation to prison sentence. Mandla Langa wrote about Mandela that; “prison, a place of punishment, instead became a place where he was able to find himself.
A place where he could think, indulging in the one thing that gave him a sense of self.” Mandela displayed immense fortitude; we can all borrow a leaf and make the best out of our circumstances and effectively deal with adversity.
Let us convey optimism in all aspects of life. We can continue with exercise, good adequate nutrition, self-love and financial management as those are some of the basic foundations for positive mental health. There is no health without mental health thus I implore everyone to prioritise mental health in 2019!
LGBTI+ POPULATION AND MENTAL HEALTH
Our previous discussion was centred on women as a vulnerable group to mental health problems and we will this week focus on the lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) population; another vulnerable group.
According to American Psychiatric Association, LGBTI people are more than twice as likely to develop mental disorder in their lifetime. Various research done has shown that depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders among LGBTI community and they are 2.5 times more likely to experience them than the rest of the population.
In addition, the LGBTI people are more at risk of suicidal behaviour and self-harm and also gay and bisexual men are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual population. There has also been reported high substance use among LGBTI community compared to the rest of the population.
These statistics clearly highlight the grave situation that the LGBTI individuals are facing. A risk factor to the occurrence of mental disorders is the rampant stigma and discrimination on the LGBTI community. A study in Britain schools, did reveal that they experience homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. Because of the prejudice, many fail to open up about their sexual orientation which is a factor that strongly facilitates development of mental illnesses.
The high rate of substance misuse could be attributed to trying to cope with the prejudice and discrimination. There has been reported inaccessibility to health services by LGBTI communities which may impact the address of their mental health issues. Studies have shown that they have an affinity to using health services hence it is ideal to holistically avail them.
Instead of focusing on our differences in diversity, the focus should be on finding the best practices and support for diverse populations including LGBTI. It is an open fact that stigma and discrimination facilitates development of mental illnesses or perpetuates existing ones thus the need to reflect as a society!
WOMEN AND MENTAL HEALTH
March the 8th marked the International Women’s Day under the theme ‘balance for better”. “The Mental Health Series” would like to glorify all women and bring to the fore pertinent issues in relation to their mental health.
Women to a greater extent are affected by mental health problems more than men. Notably depression and anxiety are the commonest mental disorders that affect women. According to the World Health Organisation, depressive disorders account for close to 41.9% of disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% of men.
Apart from gender specific determinants, a lot of socio-economic factors make women susceptible to having mental health problems. Women incur pressures from their many roles especially as single parents in many of the households. Gender discrimination in the workplace and political sphere, violence in various forms, sexual abuse, income inequality and poverty all account for the development of mental illness in women. Women also experience bullying in social media which as well can lead to lead to mental illness.
We all need to acknowledge the risk factors to mental illness that are peculiar to women and find ways to mitigate against them. Women often find it essential to seek health services and thus need to be encouraged to continue the feat as that will go a long way in helping women. We indeed need to balance for better the programmes that can empower women and serve as protective barriers from development of mental illness.
Women should have equal opportunities for economic growth, jobs and enabled to lead as that will augur well for their mental health. A worrisome issue in sport is the income inequality which renders women as inferior; has to be addressed as a matter of urgency!
There is need to nurture the mental health of women. It is nigh men reflect and do away with gender based violence. The effects of violence are far reaching hence the need to change for upliftment of mental health.
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