Keep your mind healthy

When you talk about mental health awareness, how sure are you about your own mental state? We often speak about supporting our near and dear ones emotionally, but seldom do we practice it. The only way to keep our bodies healthy is to keep our minds healthy.
Unsurprisingly, mental health is now a hotbed of discussions in the media, at health organisations and among doctors. When someone enters a doctor’s clinic with complaints of joint pains, they wait curiously for the diagnosis that can range from a multitude of arthritis. (I hope I’m right, doctors). But when the same person visits a psychiatrist or a mental health professional, all she or he’s worried about is being tagged by a single word- ‘mad’.
I’ve noticed that more mental health professionals are discussing the palpable increase in mental stress in families etc. Sadly, the predominant attitude of the public remains negative with barriers to mental health; it thus remains a taboo.
Depression is much more than being sad. It’s a state where you get addicted to numbness. It’s a struggle of a lethargic mind. People suffering from this in fact want to stay in the phase for long and never want to come back. It’s the feeling of being empty and alone amidst the crowd as if the brain is getting collapsed.
Depression and suicidal thoughts have increased drastically in Uganda over a few years. This might be because of the prevailing systems of the society including education, health, employment, etc. We live in a society where knowledge is measured by certificates and wealth. The rat race has become an indispensable part of human life now but the unfortunate part is that we and the elder generation are not aware of these issues; hence help in increasing these mental issues by ignoring the signs amongst mostly the younger generation. Anxiety or depression doesn’t merely need a reason. It starts hitting us out of the blue when our thoughts in the mind reach their saturation point.
In the end, I would say that people must overcome the myth that mental disturbance happens to those who are unsuccessful, not working, financially weaker, etc. People work and live their lives but they are still victims of depression. Hence, society needs to be very careful in catching the earliest signs of depression. It’s high time we come forward and break the silence!
Mental health professionals have themselves recognised the stigma being attached to their titles. Therefore, when the title ‘mental (mind) doctor’ got stigmatised, it was changed to tension doctors, shrinks, medical psychologists and later came neuropsychiatrists, behavioural analysts and even soul surgeons! On a lighter note, name changing is not uncommon; toilets have been called bathrooms, then washrooms and eventually restrooms! However, as we know, this does not change their purpose.
The solution is not to derive temporary satisfaction from deception and changing of titles but rather have open discussions, avoid labelling and learning to accept that we all have souls that need a little mending from time to time, some more than others. Mental health should not be a precious commodity but a conscious choice to be made, especially in this fast-paced materialistic world.
Phillip Kimumwe        
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