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Thursday, October 6, 2011

World Mental Health Day: Investing In Mental Health


October 10, 2011 is World Mental Health Day, a day to "raise public awareness of mental health issues" and "promote open discussions about mental disorders".  This year's theme is "Investing in Mental Health".  This obviously has multiple connotations.

The first is obviously about financially investing in mental health services.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health services are highly underfunded around the world, especially in low or middle income countries who focus less than 2% of their health care budgets on mental health care.  Many countries have less than one mental health care specialist for every one million people (in population).  When you calculate that much of these funds and many of these specialists are allocated to large mental hospitals, how much is left for smaller community services?  It is obvious that more funding is needed for mental health care in order to fund personalized and effective care for those dealing with mental health issues.

Another connotation of "Investing in Mental Health" is more personal.  It is the time, energy, and emotion that those dealing with mental health issues invest every day.  It is also the understanding and support that family and friends invest in these individuals.  People don't always realize how much dealing with a mental health issue is like investing in the stock market.  Those of use dealing with these types of issues may invest money in our therapy, our medications, etc., but even more so, we invest ourselves, our whole selves, in our therapy.  We invest countless hours digging though thoughts and memories, understanding triggers, focusing on being mindful and staying present.  We invest energy finding outlets for our stress and discovering coping mechanisms.  We blog.  We craft.  We meditate.  We invest in relationships with our therapists and our doctors, trusting them with our deepest emotions, our darkest thoughts, and our happiest triumphs.  We invest all that we can in order to help ourselves in our struggles with our disorders.

Like the stock market, struggling with mental health issues has it's ups and downs.  Just when you think your investment is starting to pay off, something comes and knocks you back down.  Just like investing in the stock market, investing in your mental health is most successful when you invest long term.  You can't be frightened by the ups and downs and bail out, no matter how much you might want to.  You have to ride it out.  Eventually, it will turn back around and regain its upward trend.  Whether you are investing in your mental health or the stock market, the key is the same.  If you invest enough and stick it out long enough, fighting through the ups and downs and never giving into the panic that the ups and downs cause, it eventually pays off in dividends, and you can become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.

3 comments:

  1. BEAUTIFUL beautiful article.

    I love how you said that investing in mental health is like investing in the stock market: there will be ups as well as downs and we have to ride it all out.

    I also love how you said: "It is the time, energy, and emotion that those dealing with mental health issues invest every day."

    What an empowering article, Kat!

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  2. Like Elizabeth, I really like the stock market analogy (although I doubt my retirement investment will make me wealthy beyond my wildest dreams :) We do need to ride out the ups and downs, not panic, and stick to it. Certainly after more than 15 years of treatment, I can finally say I'm feeling better, and more hopeful, than I ever have before. And I'm ready to keep going.

    The statistics on funding for mental health around the world are pretty scary. We always imagine we have it bad - there is always worse. Still, I hope that more resources will continue to be directed to taking care of people with MI, especially those who need extra help to keep their homes and jobs.

    "We blog. We craft. We meditate." Sounds like my life in a nutshell :)
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

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