End the stigma that surrounds issues of mental health
With the world celebrating World Mental Health Day yesterday on October 10, it is, first and foremost, encouraging to see that both President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina acknowledge the importance of the issue.
Addressing the mental health of any individual requires treatment and support, which is similar to any other ailment. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the topic of mental health to the forefront, with it having a catastrophic impact on people from all walks of life, across all ages.
For Bangladesh, nowhere was this more prevalent than when examining the mental health of university students, where, as per a recent survey conducted by a non-profit social organization to assess the effects of the pandemic on their mental health, it was found that a staggering 84.6% of the students had suffered from mental health issues during the pandemic, with rural areas (86.2%) slightly worse affected than urban areas (84%). Similarly, suicides increased by 44% in Bangladesh in the first year of the pandemic compared to 2019, and of those who took their own lives last year, 49% were people aged 20-35.
From the grim numbers, it is apparent that we must do all we can to end the stigma that surrounds issues of mental health. In that regard, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself calling for more attention to the matter and to bring mental health services to the masses and normalize seeking treatment is certainly an extremely positive development.
Moving forward, we hope that all relevant stakeholders and authorities concerned pay heed to the PM’s words and take the steps necessary to cater to the mental health needs of those most affected. We are disproportionately losing our youth to this silent killer, and we cannot remain silent any longer.