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Breaking the stigma of mental illness

Breaking the stigma of mental illness
Drawings and artworks by the wards of the State Mental Health Institute Kohima (SMHIK) to commemorate World Mental Health Day held at Kohima on October 10. (Morung Photo)  

Morung Express News
Kohima | October 10

To improve the quality of mental health and to break the stigma of mental illness, the World Mental Health Day is commemorated every year on October 10. Understanding the challenges of mental health in Nagaland, the State Mental Health Institute Kohima (SMHIK) and the District Mental Health Program Kohima observed the Day at the SMHIK under the global theme "Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention".

“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young people. It is a very complex issue and requires support of various sections in the society. It is everyone's responsibility to stand against this problem,” said Dr. T Wabang, Medical Superintendent (MS) SMHIK highlighting the WHO data on suicide which mentions that 8 lakh people die of suicide every year.

Speaking on the theme Dr. Viketoulie Pienyü, SMO, SMHIK highlighted the gathering on various facts about suicide and mental health across the globe. According to the Senior Psychiatrist, the main cause attributed to suicide is 'Life Stress' which are translated into various factors such as extreme poverty, disconnected family, high level of competition, unemployment, academic pressure, rejection etc. 

"We are beginning to see new cases of loneliness leading to social isolation and depression," Dr. Pienyü emphasized.

While life stress cannot be avoided, the more important issue is how to prevent suicide, asserted the Psychiatrist encouraging the gathering to take preventive actions. To medical practitioners and counselors, Dr. Pienyü urged for more intensive training on diagnosing patients on early symptoms of suicide. The dire need for setting up a crisis intervention centre was also highlighted. 

To parents, connecting with their children, encouraging social interactions, showing sensitivity, listening to their children, preventing excessive technology usage such as mobile phones and internet, were advised. To media practitioners, the Psychiatrist urged not to provide coverage on suicide cases or sensationalise the case, or to describe suicide as a way of escape.

“Talk less and listen more. Give them hope. Encourage them. Empathize with them,” remarked Dr. Pienyü.

“Mental health is the total acceptance of ourselves with the changing environment, social, physical and spiritual conditions. When one is able to adjust oneself with all these, we can assume that we are in a perfect mental condition,” said special guest Dr. Neikhrielie Khimiao, Addl. Director, Directorate Health & Family Welfare.

Stressing the importance of the government's intervention in mental health, Dr. Khimiao noted that mental health is of paramount importance to any State and country, and all governments across the globe ought to sensitize its citizens on mental health. “The government of Nagaland should prioritize and give due consideration to the mental well being of its people,” said Dr. Khimiao.

During the observation, counselling students from the SCERT Kohima, inmates and staff of the SMHIK delivered special presentations.


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