World Mental Health Day: Investing in Mental Care

World Mental Health Day falls on October 10th and we at Amelia Virtual Care are looking forward to building further awareness of mental health. When we invest in mental health care, we promise a better future individuals and society. This year, Amelia Virtual Care joins efforts made by the World Health Organization (WHO), United for Global Mental Health (United GMH) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to promote World Mental Health Day on October 10th, 2020. The timing could not be any better. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals have suffered a decline in mental health. Uncertainty surrounding financial and professional prospects, fear of infection and grief over loved ones lost have triggered anxiety and depression symptoms unlike ever before. For individuals who had an underlying mental disorder before the pandemic, their conditions have only worsened. Compounding all of this is the fact that mental health is one of the more neglected public health areas.Yet, World Mental Health Day reminds us all of the current state of mental health care–both its negligence thereof and conversely, the advancement of treatments–as well as of the need for further investment in mental well-being. Mental health care cannot and should not be a short-term fix. It requires a long-term commitment that, if upheld, welcomes a harvest of benefits to individuals and society alike. 

World Mental Health Day

The negligence of mental health conditions

Mental health has become such a problem in modern society that data now suggests death by suicide occurs once every 40 seconds.Once every 40 seconds. In other words…A person will die by suicide before another person can hear the timer go off on their electric toothbrush while brushing their teeth. Another person will die by suicide before an Instagram user reaches the end of 4 full-length Instagram stories. And another person will have died by suicide before you, the reader, could finish the introduction of this post. Shocking, right?Well, this data piece is not unique. Other figures related to other mental health conditions reflect the gravity of a situation needing further changes. Mental health disorders are plentiful. Mental health care treatments are not. Until mental health is considered integral to patient care, individuals will live unnecessarily afflicted by disorders and conditions that are, in fact, manageable. 

The promise of digital tools for mental health care

The hope for mental health care is not lost. In the last decade, with respect to innovation and patient outcomes, treatments in mental health care have improved dramatically.No better example exists than that of virtual reality (VR) therapy in different clinical settings. In recent years, clinicians and mental health care professionals have witnessed the many benefits conferred on patients by VR technology. Children who become incredibly anxious before undergoing surgery can find relief (and laughter) in specially-designed VR games. Individuals who have amaxophobia (the fear of driving) can now grab hold of the driving wheel and manage to arrive at a destination more calmly thanks to VR therapy. Finally, clinicians can hone in the potential of virtual reality to help them diagnose patients with certain mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, virtual reality is only one of many ways by which mental health care is changing for the better. Other digital tools like apps and Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS) technology aim to provide effective, optimal treatments for individuals with mental health disorders. As primary health authorities like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drive support for developing such tools, those who stand to benefit the most are those whose mental well-being has been overlooked for far too long.

World Mental Health Day

A future that supports mental health care for all

So, coming full circle, what prospects are there of mental health care? If the current World Mental Health Day campaign is of any indication (“Move for mental health: let’s invest”), mental health is an investment worth making more. As it stands currently, countries allocate approximately 2% of their public health budgets to mental health care. This is despite the fact that investments in scaled-up treatments for common mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, boast a high return in improved health and productivity. Yet, like tides with the moon, change can arrive if there’s enough pull. The World Mental Health Day draws on the appeal of a future in which mental well-being is as essential as physical well-being, to encourage all societal stakeholders to invest in mental health. Whether it’s participating in the 24-hour livestream march for mental health, listening to sportsmen or women speak about personal experiences with mental health issues or telling your own story, there’s always a way to contribute to a better future for all. Here at Amelia Virtual Care, we invest in virtual reality technology to treat individuals with mental health conditions. And you?