Beginning of end or End of beginning
Almost three years ago on taking up the Presidency of the World Psychiatric Association, representing over 2.5 lakh psychiatrists around the world, we set on a journey together to raise the profile of some themes related to mental health of underserved populations but also focusing on mental health of women facing interpersonal violence,
Globally English remains predominant language in sharing research findings which means that often excellent papers published in other languages do not reach English speakers. In order to change this, papers have been translated from Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Russian languages. The question is often raised as to what are the roles and responsibilities of the psychiatrists in the 21st century area. We set up a collaborative WPA-Lancet commission on psychiatry. The report of this Commission is almost ready and will be available in October this year. WPA established a number of WPA collaborating centres in London, Naples, Nairobi, Cape Town, Cairo, Hong Kong and Bangalore focusing on training, research or policy and will also act as repository for information for the region. Thanks to Dr Avdesh Sharma we now have 4 excellent WPA Goodwill Commissioners to help disseminate messages on mental health promotion. These include Mohan Agashe (psychiatrist and film actor/director); B.K. Shivani (a spiritual leader); Suresh Oberoi (International actor) and Kunal Nayyar (International actor) who have very kindly consented to take on this role. This is the beginning, not the end of the beginning or even the beginning of the end. We have a long way to go and we need every single person’s support to share knowledge about mental health and mental illness so that everyone can function to the best of their abilities.
Mental health is everyone’s responsibility and is far too important to be left only to the professionals. We need to have components of the entire community come together to talk about mental health share experiences, be open about it and learn from each other. Everyone needs to learn how to value their own mental health and of others around them. Working with communities to prevent mental ill-health and working with policymakers to help develop policies which provide equitable services to all irrespective of need in a model of universal healthcare are essential. Discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sexual orientation and mental illness must be eliminated. Proper funding for research and services is needed urgently if next generations are not to suffer. It would then be possible to be in a world where we can cherish and treasure ‘Mental Health for All, for Life’.
—Professor Dinesh Bhugra, CBE, President of the World Psychiatric Association