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Mental Health: A Universal Right – Ending Discrimination and Promoting Well-being

Ankita (name changed), a vibrant 25-year-old girl was looking forward to her life and career. However, her world crumbled when she lost a beloved family member, plunging her into the abyss of depression. In the depths of despair, she attempted suicide but was rescued just in time.

As Ankita embarked on her journey to recovery, she encountered the harsh reality of stigma. Employers were sceptical of her abilities, fearing she cannot handle pressure of work. Health insurance denied her coverage, citing attempted suicide as an exclusion. Friends and acquaintances treated her with an uncomfortable distance, reinforcing the isolating stigma surrounding mental health. Determined not to be defined by her struggle,  with treatment and therapy, Ankita embraced her vulnerability as strength. Supportive friends saw her true worth beyond her struggles and she proved her resilience at her work place.  

Ankita’s story reminds us that mental health challenges are part of the human experience. It’s essential to seek help without shame and break free from stigma.

On this Mental Health Day the theme for this year, “Mental Health: A Universal Right,” underscores the undeniable truth that mental well-being is an essential human right that must be safeguarded and protected. Despite growing awareness, the world continues to grapple with the problem of mental health issues, which are often shrouded in stigma and discrimination.

Discrimination can manifest in various ways, from subtle bias to overt exclusion. In workplaces, individuals with mental health conditions may be unfairly judged, passed over for promotions, or even terminated because of their condition. In society at large, the stigma associated with mental illness persists, preventing individuals from seeking help when they need it most. Friends, family, and communities may shun those who are open about their mental health issues, leading to isolation and further deterioration of their well-being.

Another alarming aspect of the mental health crisis is the inequity in mental health insurance coverage. Often, important mental health conditions such as self-harm, substance use disorders, and chronic psychiatric conditions are either partially covered or denied coverage altogether.


Addressing Stigma and Discrimination

To make mental health a universal right, we must confront and combat the stigma and discrimination that persist. Here are some ways we can work together to achieve this:

  1. Education and Awareness: Encourage open conversations about mental health to educate society about the realities of mental illness. Dispelling myths and misconceptions is essential in reducing stigma.
  1. Supportive Work Environments: Employers can play a crucial role by fostering inclusive workplaces that prioritize mental well-being. Implement policies that provide mental health resources, support, and accommodation for employees.
  1. Accessible Mental Health Services: Governments and organizations should work together to ensure affordable, accessible, and quality mental health services for everyone. This includes mental health insurance coverage for all conditions, without discrimination.
  1. Empathy and Compassion: Show empathy and compassion to individuals struggling with mental health issues. By offering support and understanding, we can help reduce the isolation they often feel.

A Call to Action

Mental health is not a privilege for the few; it is a universal right for all. This Mental Health Day in 2023, let us unite in our commitment to ending discrimination against those with mental health conditions. By working together to eliminate stigma, let us create a world where mental well-being is cherished and protected.

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