World Mental Health Day 2023


World Mental Health Day 2023

Mental Health, two words, which although in all its simplicity would relate to a health determinant, encompasses a fundamental component governing how the lambda individual functions on a daily basis. Some might ask why mental health or think ‘I am perfectly fine and can deal with all the life stressors’, statements which are very common in communities where, talking about mental health is still taboo.

However, the theme for this year entitled ‘mental health is a universal right’ is a sustained effort from previous themes such as ‘No health without mental health’ or ‘transforming mental health for all’, each driven by one powerful message, mental health needs to be nurtured; without which, the human behavior and performance is bound to decline and lead to multiple adversities. The most recent studies in the field of mental health have demonstrated that severe mental disorders decrease one’s life expectancy by as much as 25 years, the latter which is also catalyzed by the presence of physical illnesses (Fiorillo et al., 2023).

Zooming in the Mauritian landscape, the latest statistics report as much as 8173 patients treated for mental and behavioral disorders for the first time in the year 2022, while 4122 patients have been discharged in the same year (Health Statistics Report, 2022). Globally, the statistics pertaining to mental health adversities are even more alarming, 700,000 registered suicide cases on a yearly basis, 280 million individuals suffering from depression, 24 million diagnosed with schizophrenia, and 55 million having developed dementia  (WHO, 2023). Incidentally, more than 75% of people from low- or middle-income countries are not receiving proper treatment due to a lack of infrastructure or stigma associated to mental disorders, hence raising a fundamental thought ‘shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to stimulate resilience against mental health adversities and protect our mental health?’. 

The risk factors leading to mental disorders are abundant; work stressors, poor social support, constant conflicts, adverse childhood experiences, and subjective stress, just to name a few. While we have demonstrated that Mauritians are quite resilient when it comes to adversities, as exemplified by the quick bounce back following the Covid-19 period, mental health should not be downplayed. Nurturing mental health is not rocket science, the ‘secret’ potion relies on individual attributes, social and environmental determinants which cascade into 4 main strategies; function, thrive, cope and connect. Adopting healthy habits such as proper diets, physical activity; setting SMART goals to improve work-life balance and finding purpose in life; dealing with stress in a logical and systematic way while managing emotions; and interacting with others while not shying away from help-seeking when there is a need to, are precursors towards protecting and nurturing mental health. With those nodal points in mind, the University of Technology, Mauritius is renewing its commitment towards enhancing its people-centric approach, and to put positive mental health on the forefront in its professional and academic culture. 

A number of initiatives and campaigns are featured across the year to further sensitize students and staff towards community-oriented issues, circling back to mental health. Most importantly the in-house mental health services through its counselling unit ensures the constant presence of a medium to address mental health.

Dr. Manish Putteeraj & Dr.Jhoti S.Bhugowandeen.