I recently came across a statement on social media from someone who stated that the only time we get serious about mental health issues in our nation is when we read about someone's death caused by suicide. Many of us would be unaware of mental health and mental health illnesses if the news did not cover such issues. The month of May, which is widely recognized as Health Awareness Month, is here again to remind us that there is more we can do to improve mental health.
It is unfortunate that most people fail to recognize that Malawians are and can be affected by mental health issues. Failure to recognize this leads to a worsening of the situation. Recognizing its existence entails not just admitting that mental disorders exist, but also putting measures, resources, and attention to mental health issues in place.
There is a lot we can do during this mental health awareness month. We can first start by eliminating stereotypes regarding various mental health illnesses. Individuals must understand that no one is above mental illnesses. They must accept that even religious people can suffer from depression, anxiety, and other disorders, and that children can suffer from depression as well. Religious institutions, college institutions, and society at large must all recognize mental health disorders.
We've all heard stories about people whose cries for help were dismissed, whose screams were disregarded; now is the chance to do things differently. May this month remind us that there is a lot we can do every day to aid in the fight against mental health issues, and it all starts with understanding.