This year’s World Mental Health Day comes at a time when all our lives have changed considerably and we face several challenges due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
It is a time when the world is racing to combat an illness which has affected millions and severely affected economies and the incomes of the rich and poor alike.
While COVID-19 is relatively a new illness which has taken the world by storm, mental illness is a silent pandemic which has plagued our society for generations, and still most consider it a taboo subject to even discuss.
According to official statistics by World health organization says, The global economy loses about US$ 1 trillion per year in productivity due to depression and anxiety. Also almost 800 000 people die by suicide every year; 1 person dies from suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in individuals aged 15-29 years , a major cause being that these victims cannot reach out to the help required.
Currently, young people make up around one fourth of the world’s total population and this group also face the highest form of competition, because they are at a crucial stage in their lives where they are about to complete their educational years and enter a new world of independence. Where they have to select their careers, set their income for the future and achieve their ambitions.
But most often, in this day and age where Information Technology can be misused, some youngsters fall prey to cyber bullying, cyber crimes and other distractions which leads to mental illness and severe forms of depression, even before the start of their careers or while reaching the peak of their lives. According to numbers, Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, affecting 264 million people.(Source – www.who.int)
While such challenges should be faced with will and courage, I encourage the young and old to be more involved in sports and yoga which leads to team work and a healthier life and is a promising avenue for supporting mental health.
The endorphins released by exercise can help combat anxiety and depression.
Further, we have all witnessed that even athletes often fall victim to mental illness as they are pressurized to be the ‘fittest’, ‘fastest’ or the ‘best’.
Yoga’s positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice method of psychotherapy (American psychological association). It has been proven that yoga enhances social well being through a sense of belonging to others, and improve the symptoms of depression, hyperactivity, and sleep disorders (Source – Yoga & Mental Health, Huffington Post 2013).
Which is why I am now working on promoting yoga in the national sports academy so that the mental health and physical health of our athletes are well maintained.
As we now move into a COVID-19 world, where we have to accept that this illness may be around for some time till countries develop a strong vaccine against it, we must all unite and remain together and encourage each other to move ahead with will and dedication to face all challenges which may come our way. Practicing sports, going for walks, maintaining workouts, practicing yoga, are all ways which can help us combat mental illness and lead us to creating a stronger society with not just healthy bodies but with healthy minds too.
For nothing in this world can torment you more than your own thoughts
As Sri Lanka faces a new wave of the COVID-19 I call on all of you to strictly follow all the health guidelines laid out by the authorities and pray for all of you to be safe.