World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day 2020

My days in quarantine have been an entirely new experience – being able to see my wife and kids but not being close to them.

And as much as I’m a proponent of digital technology and the virtual space, meetings have been different.

These have made me ponder on one human aspect which technology cannot change; human beings are communal creatures.

This has made me appreciate more the very great challenges faced by our healthcare providers – doctors, nurses and others – as well as other frontliners being close but distant to their loved ones.

And that surely takes its toll on our individual and collective mental and emotional wellbeing.

2020 has stretched the global human capacity in ways last seen in the 1940's.

Healthcare providers take great risks with their lives by saving the lives of others, parents go to work worrying about the safety of their children in schools, students face an incredible challenging time adapting to education in isolation.

And some face the greatest grief possible; losing a loved one in this pandemic, sometimes not being able to say goodbye.

That is precisely why I think this year’s World Mental Health Day theme of Greater Investment – Greater Access is spot on.

Mental health is the most neglected facet of public health, with one person dying every 40 seconds due to suicide, reports the World Health Organisation.

This is exacerbated by the fact that countries across the globe spend only 2% of national budgets on efforts towards managing mental health.

However, there are positives to look at.

30 years on from the first World Mental Health Day, I have seen people being able to speak more openly of their own challenges. And policymakers too are more ready to begin tackling these challenges.

Now it is time for governments to take this seriously by investing more into mental health initiatives.

In the Prihatin Economic Recovery Package in Selangor, we set aside RM1 million towards mental wellbeing initiatives through targeted online programmes for those in most need.

This has been successful to a degree but there are of course ways in which we can improve after getting feedback from participants.

With that being said, I realise and will commit to an increase in funding for mental health and wellbeing programmes in Selangor, both in general as well as specialist settings, by working with local communities, in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.

Inequality shouldn’t only be viewed through an economic and financial lens. To achieve societal mental wellbeing, no one should be left behind.

YAB Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari

Menteri Besar Selangor

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