In October we celebrate Mental Health Month. These days give us the opportunity to connect with issues that millions of people face every year. It is important to raise awareness and mobilize efforts in support of mental health issues. This is an opportunity to talk about mental health professional’s work and to make mental issues a reality for people worldwide.

Conversation with Sarah Harrison and Eliza Yee Lai Cheung

In this context, as one of the actions during our Inclusive Week, we are thrilled to have been able to count on Sarah Harrison and Eliza Yee Lai Cheung.

Sarah Harrison is a Technical Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Advisor at the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). She has been working at the IFRC since 2016 and she is a specialist in psychosocial support and protection for children, youth, women and men in humanitarian settings.

Eliza Yee Lai Cheung is a Clinical Psychologist and Service who is in charge of the Psychological Support Service in Hong Kong Red Cross. She has been working at the organization since 2014 and she is specialized in clinical psychology and public health.

What did we talk about?

In our VCNI IW session with Sarah and Eliza, we had an open and super interesting conversation where we discussed the importance of integrating mental health in our daily life together with physical wellbeing. What has become clear to us is that both mental and physical health are important for people and that they cannot be considered as separate parts. Both are interconnected and they have to be accordingly treated.

Another important theme at the conversation was the cost of mental health to society both in emotional and monetary terms.

Brain suffering is many times invisible but it costs a huge amount of suffering and dollars every year. It is noteworthy that every dollar that is invested in mental health and wellbeing has a return of 45$.

However, what is more important is that investing in mental health will bring productive workforces, happier societies and stable families. Psychological wellness is part of the individual’s ability to manage a fulfilling life within their relationships, education and work life.

The World Health Organization has defined Mental Health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”. Can you see why it is so important to invest in this matter?

Red Cross’ initiatives related to Mental Health

During the session, we also had the opportunity to hear about all the great initiatives that the Red Cross has across the world in order to support emotional wellbeing & mental health. Not only nowadays as a result of the pandemic, but also anytime there is a catastrophe somewhere in the world and in the long term focused on social care, loneliness, the integration of refugees or healthy aging.

IFRC’s objective is to prevent and reduce human suffering and to protect life, health and dignity. The organization and its 192-member National Societies provide services and programmes in order to address mental needs of communities around the world, from the provision of basic psychological support to more specialized mental health care.

Education of children and society

Furthermore, we discussed the importance of educating children and society towards the ability to understand mental health issues. We have to equip them with language on how to talk about emotions and feelings.

As we have seen above, mental wellbeing is fundamental in our life. This is why it is so urgent to prepare our younger generations on this matter. They will constitute the future society and they have to be able to perceive when they need help, how they can express themselves, who they can turn to or even distinguish when someone nearby needs assistance.

We need to give voice to the 450 million people who suffer in silence. This will only be possible if we change people’s minds regarding this topic and in this sense, education is key to the future.

 

Start now looking around you, there is always something we can do to support friends and family when the need arises!

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