The World Mental Health Day, to be marked today, will focus on administering first aid to persons with mental problems.
This was announced at a news conference organised by the Ministry of Health in Kigali last week.
The focus is aimed at raising awareness on mental health problems and promoting effective integration of mental health services in community first aid services.
The World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It is observed on October 10 every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.
It provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
The theme of this year’s world Mental Health Day is, “Dignity in Mental Health: Psychological& Mental Health First Aid for All.”
Addressing the media, Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the mental health division manager at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said this year’s focus points to the valuing of people with mental health problems, knowing how to care for them through first aid among other ways as well as helping them feel valued in society.
To do this, different activities were carried out. These include production and dissemination of sensitisation tools, display and distribution banners and pamphlets about mental health; broadcasting radio programmes on mental health – which started yesterday – and sensitisation of mental health professionals.
The aim is to call on everybody to contribute toward fighting stigma, discrimination and other kinds of abuses against patients with mental health diseases, increase awareness on problems and challenges around mental health as well as integrating basic psychological and mental health first aid in disaster management package.
“It does not need one to be a specialist to be able to administer first aid care to a person with a mental problem. Everyone can do it with little sensitisation. We can help them to respect doctors’ advice, take medication, among others,” Dr Kayiteshonga said.
Rwanda currently has seven mental health experts; 50 nurses and up to 2000 psychiatrists.
The World Mental Health Day was first marked in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.