Mental health - Understanding the undisclosed

You know something is wrong but you don’t quite know what it is. The first wave of it comes as an unstoppable force within you that takes away the joys of sleep that you used to love and simple pleasures in your everyday life. Your whole body aches and pains leaving you exhausted and yet you find you haven’t left the bed. It is continuously weighing you down with lethargy and robs you of the smiles that were once given out in abundance. It was that constant black dog that was following you everywhere and won’t leave you. As soon as it comes it leaves you. Then comes a wave of self-loathing that continuous loop of twisting past disappointments in the most skewed way possible. That black dog that follows you keeps telling you why you are so alone and why you will always be alone. This second wave isn’t stopping itself; it builds up to another tsunami of regret after regret that seems to swallow you. It goes away leaving you with the remains hollow emptiness like inside dark infinite emptiness. You reach out your hands to get out of that hole but you worry and you panic – that black dog reminds you that you are a burden to the people around you. It’s like living on the edge of sanity where you think you are happy then without warning it gives away – Anonymous

Depression is a form of mental disorder; which leaves persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for sustained period of time. It is a mental disorder that is often blended into the background as a wallflower that gets overlooked and is only recognized when it ceases to exist. The number of people with depression has increased around the world in the past decade. This global trend is equally true to our small society. This year on World Health Day (7th April) the theme is to focus on mental health, more specifically on depression and how to mobilize action on a subject that concerns the well-being of our society. Depression affects people of all ages and from all walks of life, as it does not discriminate along socioeconomic status. Depression, at worst can lead to deep mental anguish culminating in the unspeakable tragedy of suicide or deep suicidal thoughts. The good news however is that depression can be treated.

Deep trauma as a result of falling victim to natural and man-made disasters and emergencies can also act as triggers for deteriorating mental health including depression. The scars left from such incidents do not diminish immediately, however these too can be treated and the condition of sufferers can improve. As a highly homogenous society, it is imperative for us to acknowledge the existence and rise of mental health issues and the vicious stigma that is attached to them. To negate the stigma it is important to promote mental well-being by encouraging regular exercise, social connectedness and self-care.

WHO quantifies the drop in productivity and other medical costs arising from depression at a global cost of $1trillion every year. This is a huge loss for society as a whole, especially in a developing country with a large population of young people and migrants. This emphasizes the need for society to be empathetic and realize the importance of accepting that anyone can suffer from issues of mental health.

Maldivian Red Crescent has been providing psychosocial support services through our trained volunteers to persons who have been affected by disasters and emergencies since its inception in 2009, by ensuring their basic and unique needs are met and supporting them in their journeys. As a humanitarian actor, Maldivian Red Crescent is there for the most vulnerable people, impartial to who they are or where they come from to contribute to a healthy society. A prosperous society requires for it to be healthy physically, spiritually and mentally.

Editor's note: This article is by the Maldives Red Crescent for the World Health Day.