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Mind matters: Youth and mental health


To highlight the growing importance of addressing mental health issues among the youth, the United Nations celebrated August 12, The Youth Day, with the slogan ‘Youth and Mental Health’. With no proper studies, the prevalence rate of mental illness among Nepalis is a matter of speculation. But it is believed that at least 20 percent of youths, particularly those between 15 and 24, are battling one or the other mental disorder. Despite such high prevalence, we rarely hear of a ‘mental health crisis’ in our society. This is largely because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Psychiatrists recount stories of how middle-aged parents who bring their children to mental health clinics emphasize that their wards have no ‘mental problem’ and they only wanted to ‘get second opinion.’ This sort of pussyfooting in tackling the problem head on is indicative of the stigma that is making thousands of Nepali youth suffer silently. Many of them live in denial. 

Since growing children are most vulnerable to mental illness, the best way to address this problem would be to include mental health in school health curriculum. Just like students are informed about other diseases and how they can keep themselves safe, they should be taught that mental illness is just another disease that can be treated. Just like matters related to sex, the only way to effectively deal with mental health-related issues is to bring them out in the open. In many Western countries, the trend of educating young school-going students about their emotions is catching up. There is no reason we cannot benefit from similar interventions here. One effective method is to give little children placards with the words ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘feel good’ and ‘feel bad’ and encourage them to display the placard that best corresponds to their emotion that day. Another method is to designate a section of the classroom for students who are feeling ‘down’ that day. These initiatives are so effective because students can let others know about their mental state without speaking a word. Often, they simply don’t know how to frame their problems. 

There is also a woeful paucity of informative material on mental illness in our popular media. The ‘hand washing campaign’ has been a big success since its slogans appear in virtually all of the popular media, print and broadcast. Wildly-popular youth icons like Selena Gomez and Sachin Tendulkar now promote hand-washing in Nepal. But there has been no such initiative in mental health, a no less important issue. Hopefully, with the United Nations designating a whole year to tackle mental health problems among the youth, things will begin to change. If the UN line agencies in Nepal start pushing mental health issues (just like they have pushed hand washing), we could start witnessing immediate changes. The Nepali state for its part has shown brazen neglect of this growing menace, which is most evident in its setting aside under a percentage of total health budget for mental health. This willful neglect must end if we are serious about developing a truly healthy society.

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

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Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point
Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point
Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point