Raising Awareness: World Suicide Prevention DaySep 10, 2020
In today’s world, multiple factors contribute to mental health. We often see mental health struggles among our FIMRC communities around the world, so we work to raise awareness and provide support to those in need.
Common Factors Contributing to Mental Health
Many factors contribute to mental health. The main social determinants include gender equality, economic equality, community, and environmental factors. Research has commonly shown that there is a strong correlation between social disadvantage and poor mental health. Furthermore, it is said that 75% of all suicides tend to occur in low/middle-income countries in which access to mental health counseling and resources is either limited or non-existent.
Aside from societal factors, health diagnosis tends to play a large role in mental health as well. Specifically, there seems to be a correlation between HIV patients suffering from poor mental health with many HIV patients committing suicide after being diagnosed. This phenomenon is something that FIMRC works closely with, as an estimated number of 1.5 million people living in Uganda are HIV positive, which could result in extremely high suicide rates.
Continuing, due to the current state of the world we are living in among a global pandemic, it is estimated that the COVID-19 crisis may also lead to increased suicide rates, especially in communities where mental health counseling is not readily available. According to the Oxford Journal of Medicine, the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with distress, anxiety, and depression among the general population. It is also said that this crisis may lead to increased suicide rates and an overall increase in suicidal behavior.
With these statistics, it is essential now more than ever to raise awareness and take action steps toward suicide prevention.
FIMRC Stands Up Against Suicide
Today and every day, FIMRC believes in the importance of mental health. FIMRC implements services that connect communities with mental health practices and ensures that their project sites across the globe have access to the tools they need to combat common mental health triggers, including anxiety and depression.
Virtual Global Health Fellows working on Project La Merced in Peru came together to create a video featuring Carlos the monkey to teach children about mental health practices that help to reduce anxiety.
FIMRC’s psychologist Freddy Baque has stepped up during the pandemic to offer virtual psychological sessions for individuals within the community. Due to an increased demand for psychological services during COVID-19, the services have been opened to community members of all ages.
Project Alajuelita, Costa Rica
Virtual Global Health Fellow, Alexandra Boardman, worked alongside FIMRC’s team at Project Alajuelita in Costa Rica to raise awareness regarding mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This material includes helpful tips and mindful practices that those throughout the community can use to access a state of calm during this highly stressful time. This is in addition to ongoing psychological services to community members who need it most.
Due to the significant impact that HIV diagnosis plays on mental health throughout Uganda, where many community members live with HIV, FIMRC has counseling procedures in place for individuals, families, and couples to access. Musa, director of outreach and head of voluntary counseling and testing at Project Bududa, Uganda, is available to those throughout the community who are looking for a safe space to cope with diagnoses, stress, anxiety, depression, and much more. FIMRC’s Virtual Volunteer Program for Project Bududa, Uganda, also includes interactive virtual case studies created by Dr. Peter Smith, MD in which discussions focus primarily on the impact HIV has on mental health, treating HIV, and combating the stigma surrounding those living with HIV.
Standing Up Together, Even Apart
We are better together, even when we must be apart. This is why FIMRC has implemented Virtual Volunteer Programs, offering medical students and fellows the opportunity to make an impact from home. Through these programs, virtual volunteers will have the chance to contribute to one of FIMRC’s project sites; volunteers will learn about the main struggles that each community faces and develop a greater understanding of how to help. FIMRC is also implementing mental health practices into their virtual programs so that communities can come together during this difficult time. In an interview with Virtual Volunteer, Jasmine Davda describes the impact of the virtual program, stating, “this program helped me deepen my knowledge around global health challenges as well as social, economic, and cultural factors involved in addressing those challenges,” common factors that play a role in mental health throughout the globe. If you’re interested in joining FIMRC and contributing to the fight for global and mental health, you can learn more about our virtual programs offered here.
Understanding the impact of mental health is the first step toward suicide prevention. We must acknowledge the factors that contribute to overall mental health and provide mindful tips and tricks to combat the heightened stress, anxiety, and depression that millions of people experience daily.
In an article by The Economic Times, C. Ramasubramanian, state nodal officer of the District Mental Health Program states the first step toward suicide prevention, “create awareness amongst the public that mental illness is by and large curable and that suicides can be prevented.” As an organization that strives to provide equal health opportunities to communities across the globe, it is essential to note that mental health is included in this, and by providing proper tools and resources, FIMRC aims to combat suicide across various communities.
We have collected various tools and resources from TED and the Mayo Clinic, providing information on the importance of mental health:
TED Main Page for Mental Health playlists
· The Struggle of Mental Health
· Let’s End the Silence Around Suicide
· How to practice emotional first aid
· What to do when someone is suicidal
· Mental Health: what’s normal, what’s not
· Self-esteem: take steps to feel better about yourself
Meet Musa Kutosi! Musa is an integral part of FIMRC’s Project Bududa, Uganda and wears many different hats including our VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) counselor. While, as the title may suggest, he focuses mostly on counseling individuals and couples who come to the clinic to get tested for HIV and provides counseling to everyone, regardless of their test results. He provides a confidential shoulder to cry on, advice and guidance, and linkage to any additional services a patient may need. His clients include drug addicts and alcoholics, patients suffering from all conditions who need encouragement and mental support, and teens and young adults in need of intervention. He also manages support groups for people living with HIV (Post-Test Club and Orphans and Vulnerable Children/Guardian Program). Musa will drop everything whenever a patient comes in, and makes time for them. He also has three separate phone lines that patients constantly call into to ask for advice on pretty much any difficult situation. Musa has a degree in Psychology and was called to counseling from an early age when he witnessed how difficult life was for close friends and relatives who were living with HIV. Seeing their despair and the stigma they faced in the community, and the lack of support available to them, drove Musa to be there for others and gently bring them back into the fold through the simple act of showing them that there was someone who cared. Instead of watching others give up their struggle, Musa’s work focuses on helping people maximize their lives despite the circumstances they live with. Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, FIMRC would like to thank Musa for everything he has done to bring awareness to mental health issues and suicide prevention. Thank you, Musa!
Interested in volunteering abroad or participating in our virtual programs? Check them out below!
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