Mental health in Sierra Leone is a growing concern, as the country faces numerous challenges that can impact the mental well-being of its population. Some of these challenges include poverty, unemployment, limited access to health care, and exposure to violence and conflict. According to an article published by the national library of medicine, mental health remains largely stigmatized not only in Sierra Leone but across the world.
What is mental health???
includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of our life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
In Sierra Leone, there has been scarceness in the area of mental health research, with the last systemic epidemiological study dating back to a 2002 Ministry of Health survey (Alemu et al). Subsequently, mental health research has been largely focused on the civil war, Ebola, and now Covid19.
But why is mental health important? What are the health benefits of mental health? And lastly what are some of the basic tips on how to maintain mental health and well-being?
In the preceding paragraphs, I will throw light on these questions.
Why is mental health important?
Mental health is an important part of our well-being. It is this aspect of our general well-being that determines how we’re able to operate psychologically, emotionally, and socially among others. Maintaining positive mental health and treating any mental health conditions is crucial to stabilizing constructive behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Focusing on mental health care can increase productivity, enhance our self-image, and improve relationships.
Considering how much of a role our mental health play in each aspect of our life, it’s important to guard and improve psychological wellness using appropriate measures.
Because different circumstances can affect our mental health, I’ll be highlighting some risk factors and signs that may indicate mental distress. But most importantly, I’ll dive into all of the benefits of having your mental health in its best shape.
What are the challenges of mental health in Sierra Leone?
Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common in Sierra Leone, but they often go undiagnosed and untreated due to a lack of awareness and stigma surrounding mental health issues. There are few mental health facilities and trained mental health professionals in the country, making it difficult for people to access the help they need.
In addition to limited access to care, there are also cultural beliefs and practices that can further impact the mental health of individuals in Sierra Leone. For example, some communities believe that mental health issues are caused by supernatural forces, rather than biological or psychological factors. This can lead to a lack of understanding and acceptance of mental health conditions, making it even harder for individuals to seek help and support.
Overall, the mental health situation in Sierra Leone remains a serious concern, and addressing the challenges facing the country will require a comprehensive and sustained effort from government, healthcare providers, and community organizations.
What are the benefits of good mental health?
Whether you’re young or old, the importance of mental health for total well-being cannot be overemphasized. When psychological wellness is affected, it can cause negative behaviors that may not only affect personal health but can also affect our relationships with others.
Here are some of the benefits of good mental health.
A Positive Self-Image: Mental health greatly relates mutually with personal feelings about oneself. Overall mental wellness plays a part in your self-esteem and boosts self-confidence. Confidence can often be a good indicator of a healthy mental state and well-being.
A person whose mental health is flourishing is more likely to focus on the good in themselves and others rather than the bad/negative. They will whet in on these qualities and will generally have enthusiasms that strive for a healthy, happy life.
Good mental health promotes healthier Relationships: If your mental health is in good standing, you might be more capable of providing your friends and family with quality time, affection, and support. When you’re not in emotional distress, it can be easier to show up and support the people you love and care about.
Higher Quality of Life: When mental well-being thrives, your quality of life may improve. This can give room for greater participation in community building. For example, you may begin volunteering in everything that concerns people and the community in which you live. etc.
You may also want to pick up new hobbies, like making new acquaintances, and as well travel to new cities.
Enhance better Productivity: Dealing with depression or other mental health disorders can impact your productivity levels. If you feel mentally strong, it’s more likely that you will be able to work more efficiently and provide higher-quality work in every sphere of life.
What are some basic steps to improve mental health?
Because mental health is so important to general wellness, it’s important that you take care of your mental health.
Here is a list of things you can easily do to help improve your mental health.
- Taking up regular exercise
- Prioritizing rest and sleep on a daily basis
- Trying meditation
- Learning coping skills for life challenges
- Keeping in touch with loved ones
- Maintaining a positive outlook on life
- Eating a balanced diet
Another proven way to improve and maintain mental well-being is through the guidance of a professional. Always inform your primary care doctor if you have concerns about your mental health. He or she can refer you to the appropraite mental health practitioner for evaluation and treatment as deem necessary.