As you may have heard, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to two people, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, and Kailash Satyarthi of India. A Muslim, and a Hindu, who fight for the rights of those who have no voice, those who are exploited and denied the right to a basic education. (Read more here).
And today, October 10, 2014, is World Mental Health Day. The Day is dedicated to and focused on raising awareness about those who suffer from schizophrenia. Schizophrenia has long been misunderstood by the masses, In fact, as I talked about recently a post , stigma towards this kind of illness has not subsided in recent years, but actually increased.
What we often fail to realize, or think much about, is how much a problem mental illness is in the developing world. Just as child trafficking and exploitation run rampant and in so many parts of the world women are still treated as property, so are people of all ages struggling with mental illness who have little access to support and treatment.
Stereotypes prevail that say people stay stuck in their poverty because they are lazy or have sub par character and morals, and others along the same line. If they just had more ambition, I’ve heard people say, they can get out of their current position in life. There are obviously numerous complex factors that influence the cyclical nature of poverty, but a huge component is the triggering and exacerbation of mental illness in such environments.
Chronic stress, poor nutrition, abuse, lack of prospects, all of these and more contribute greatly to the numbers of mentally ill among those in poverty stricken situations and the developing countries. Even when treatment options are available, they are often culturally inappropriate or not far reaching enough to provide adequate help.
What this all comes down to is a matter of education. We need more Malalas and Kailashes in the world to fight for those who don’t have voices. We need to stop putting on blinders that help us avoid what makes us uncomfortable and become very aware of the desperate inequalities still going on throughout our world, even just a few blocks away.
So, may I encourage you, do your part….learn more about mental illness, and help pass on the facts to others. Challenge the stereotypes and myths….and, help erase the words “If they only tried harder…” from the minds of more Americans and those economically fortunate in the world,
Seeking to fully live,