When is too much Autism awareness still not enough? This thought recurs every April as we near World Autism Day on April 2, and parents reach out to me after reading enthusiastic and well-meaning news and journal articles – which are actually harmful and hurtful.
Mental health and treating mental health conditions involves not only treating an individual’s ability to manage their thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and interactions with others, but also ensuring that the social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental conditions are in place through effective national policies, social protections, adequate living standards, working conditions, community social support, and a tiered system of care through a robust network of health services. In Bangladesh, the Mental Health Act 2018 and the National Mental Health Policy 2021 were developed with the above in mind.
Mental health is a state of well-being when both your body and your mind are in balance, and you are able to deal with the difficulties and challenges that come your way and easily find joy, peace, and happiness once the challenge is overcome. For many people though, the challenges often remain for too long - the pain of losing someone you dearly loved, being diagnosed with a chronic disease like cancer or a heart condition, losing your family/home/job or feeling like you failed to meet expectations. All those things and more can trigger so much intense stress and maladjustment, that if it goes unchecked and untreated, it may lead to a chronic disease, a mental health disorder. WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The majority of people are able to cope and get back to life as normal, but for the many who cannot, they begin to experience intense detachment from reality (experiencing delusions, pervasive sadness, uncontrollable fears, intense anger and/or fantasies and hallucinations). For those individuals, there is limited help and treatment in every country in the world. Those who suffer from mental health disorders and the brave professionals who learn to treat them are chronically stigmatized, under-appreciated and under-paid.