International Youth Day is observed every year to draw attention of government and other agencies towards youth centric issues. Youth account for1.8 billion people of the world population.The United Nations Generally Assembly passed a resolution accepting to observe 12th August as ‘International Youth Day’. The assembly adopted fifteen priority areas which included education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, recreational activities, girls and young women, participation, globalization, Information and communication technologies, HIV/AIDS, Youth and conflict and Intergenerational relations. The theme for this year is “Youth and Mental Health.”
In a developing country like India, mental illness is shrouded in stigma, ignorance and superstition. There are approximately 20 million Indians suffering from mental illness. As per WHO, 20% of India’s population will suffer from some form of mental illness by the year 2020. Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. believes that barely 1-2% of the health budget is dedicated to mental health, in comparison to 10 to 12% in other countries. In medical colleges, students do a mere two week clinical posting at a psychiatry unit at the end of their training. There are less than 5000 psychiatrists addressing the issues of mental illness in the country. This is the importance that is given to this particular sector. What’s even more disheartening is that 25 % of the mentally ill are homeless.
Mostly people suffering from mental illness face discrimination which leads to discouragement or exclusion of people who are trying to seek help because of the fear of stigma. This day provides the opportunity to speak out about these issues with the objective of overcoming stigma and discrimination to ensure that young people with mental health conditions can lead a full and healthy live free from isolation and unnecessary shame and openly seek the services and support they need. Youth plays a prominent role in development of a nation. A government needs to work towards increasing the available opportunities for the youth. Youth can play a pivotal role towards improvement of mental health in respect of training, research, and provision of clinical services to promote mental health in all sections of society. Efforts needs to be directed towards advocating the issue and helping the public become aware about the issue, which might also lead to an increased awareness. Even though India has trained manpower in general health services yet there is a limited number of mental health trained personnel based in urban settings. Youth will play a pivotal role towards improvement of mental health in respect of training, research, and provision of clinical services to promote mental health in all sections of society.
By Rahul Choudhury,
Media Team – Fiinovation