DEFENSIVE DRIVING

When we drive every day, we are always optimistic that we shall get to our destination safely. While we can control our actions behind the wheel, it is not possible to control the actions of other drivers.

Most vehicle accidents are actually as a result of human error. If an error is made at the wrong moment, an accident or collision will result. Therefore, a consistent, defensive approach to driving is the best way to reduce the likelihood of driver error.

Defensive driving can be defined as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.

It is also defined by some drivers as “driving as if everyone else on the road were drunk.”

Characteristics of a defensive driver

A defensive driver always applies the following safe driving skills;

  • Expect the unexpected by being aware of potential hazards and other road users’ actions around you, enabling you to take pro-active measures to avoid an incident. This can be achieved by searching and eye scanning while you drive. The mirrors are very helpful in this regard.
  • Always maintain a three second gap when following another vehicle. Do not tailgate other vehicles, as this will remove the opportunity for ample time and space to react to any sudden change, making it more likely to endanger yourself and those around you.
  • Avoid sudden stops by using turn signals and brakes in advance.

Driving Hazards

The following are at-risk behaviors that can lead to road traffic accidents (RTA);

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a type of traffic violation in which a driver displays complete disregard for road signs, signals, and laws. It is a common cause of car accidents, and because it usually involves high speeds or extremely dangerous driving tactics, it often results in the injury or death of one or more people.

Reckless driving includes; over speeding or driving above designated speed limits, racing with other vehicles, ignoring traffic signs, speeding at curves, junctions and blind spots, weaving through traffic, right-of-way violations, braking suddenly and tailgating.

Untrained Driver

An untrained driver is a silent killer. Untrained drivers are one of the main causes of increasing road accidents. The majority of drivers on roads have not passed the driving test. They neither have driving license nor proper knowledge of traffic signs and other rules and regulations. In spite of this ignorance, they continue to drive putting their lives and the lives of others in danger. Drivers must be trained and experienced to operate the vehicles they drive.

Driving in adverse weather conditions

Driving in adverse weather conditions affects your ability to see. When visibility and traction is reduced, the chances of an incident is greatly increased. Such weather conditions are rain, fog, ice, snow, sand storms, severe wind, glaring sunlight and dust. Driving in flooded areas is also very dangerous. Avoid puddles of water and hydroplaning, use windshield wipers and defroster, turn on lights and most importantly, reduce your speed. Consider parking for some time if the weather gets too harsh.

Night driving is also risky. Most vehicle accidents occur at night. The dangers of night driving include reduced visibility and poor ability to judge distances, movements, and colors.

Knowing the hazards associated with different weather conditions helps you to adapt your driving to the different situations.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention of the driver from the road. This includes calling or texting on your phone, applying make-up, eating, drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, writing or reading, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system, road rage (angry or impatient driver) — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Distraction can be in three forms: Visual (for example taking your eyes off the road to look at your GPS, or check your noisy kids behind the car), Manual (taking your hands off the steering to eat, apply make-up or search your bag) and Cognitive (when you are occupied with other thoughts and you are not mentally focused).

Distracted driving increases the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle inspection and maintenance

When was the last time you got your vehicle inspected and maintained? Drivers who drive unsafe vehicles are not only putting their lives in danger, they are also putting the lives of others in danger as well. Failure to properly maintain brakes, lights or tires can lead to injury or fatality. For example, a vehicle tire can get blown out, causing the vehicle to rollover. This can lead to very severe injury or fatality.

Outside the routine vehicle maintenance, there should be pre-use checks or inspections. This should include inspecting the tires, brakes, fluids (water and oil), windshield wipers, mirrors, lights and indicators and wash fluid, etc.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the largest risk factors that contribute to traffic collisions. Substance use can impair perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, and other brain functions necessary for safe driving. There are several ways alcohol or drugs can impair your driving skills – slow reaction time, lack of coordination, reduce concentration, decrease vision, and inhibit judgment.

Safe driving requires the ability to concentrate, make good judgments and quickly react to situations. However, alcohol affects these skills, putting yourself and others in danger.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. Fatigue has a huge impact on your driving and can affect your ability to drive safely, similar to the effect of driving under the influence of alcohol. Fatigue is a contributing cause of most road crashes. The main causes of fatigue when driving are; lack of quality sleep, overnight driving, driving for long hours without breaks and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Ensure you are medically fit to drive a vehicle; stop at intervals for rest over long travel distances; avoid medications that cause drowsiness; if you experience fatigue while driving, pull over the car to a safe condition and have a short rest.

Driving without seatbelt

Drivers and passengers, who don’t wear a seat belt are likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.The primary purpose of wearing a seat belt is to increase the likelihood of survival for drivers and passengers in an accident. During a crash, being buckled up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. Get in the habit of always putting your safety belt on every time you get into a vehicle, no matter where you are sitting or the distance you are going.

In the event your car catches fire or gets submerged in water, there is a general believe that not wearing a seat belt makes you safe. This is an inaccurate assumption, as the impact from the accident could knock you unconscious and prevent you from exiting the vehicle, or even eject you from the vehicle. For this kind of accidents, it’s easier to be conscious and unbuckle yourself to escape.

Also note that a safety belt does not protect you when it’s not worn properly. Ensure seat belts are in working order.

WORLD STROKE DAY – OCTOBER 29, 2020.

World Stroke Day is observed annually on October 29 to raise awareness about the serious nature and high rates of stroke, its prevention, and treatment and how to ensure better care and support is given to stroke patients. It is also an opportunity to emphasize on Stroke education, testing and initiatives to improve its damaging effects worldwide. The annual event, which was established in 2004 at the World Stroke Congress in Vancouver, Canada, was started in 2006 by the World Stroke Organization (WSO). In 2010, the WSO declared stroke a public health emergency. It is currently the single largest cause of disability and the second largest cause of death globally.

In 2009, WSO leadership moved from a focus on a single awareness day, to a year-round campaign to build a more sustained approach to public awareness of key issues in stroke recognition and prevention and treatment.

Beyond World Stroke Day, the World Stroke Campaign (WSC) continues to serve as a source for activism and policy resources worldwide. Through advances in research, and communications at the international level, WSC strives to promote advocacy towards making stroke less of a global threat.

Strokes do not discriminate. A stroke can affect anyone, at any age. About one in four people worldwide will have a stroke in his or her lifetime.

To prevent stroke, it is vital to understand the risk factors. Some risk factors — such as age, race, gender and family history — are outside of your control. But you can control other risk factors.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Act F.A.S.T

 

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of your face droop or is it numb? If you smile, is your face uneven? Seek for help.
  • Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards? Seek for help.
  • Speech – Is your speech slurred? Are you unable to speak or hard to understand? Try or ask a suspected stroke patient to repeat a simple sentence like “The Sky is Blue”.
  • Time to call you doctor – If you or someone show any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, seek for medical attention immediately.

       Additional Signs of Stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness and loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

      Steps to prevent stroke

Healthy habits can protect and improve your brain function — which can also lower your risk for stroke. Some of these healthy habits are:

  • Monitor your blood pressure.
  • Control your cholesterol.
  • Keep your blood sugar down.
  • Get active.
  • Eat better – A healthy balanced diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke, period.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Manage stress and depression.
  • Regular check-ups and take medications as prescribed.

World Stroke Day 2020

There will be a virtual conference from 7 – 9 November, 2020, organized by ESO (European Stroke Organization) and WSO (World Stroke Organization).

https://eso-wso-conference.org/world-stroke-day/

https://eso-stroke.org

https://www.world-stroke.org/

 

 

Mental Health and Workplace Safety

Mental health is among the most prevalent factors impacting the workplace. The overall health and safety of a workplace includes both the physical and psychological well-being of its workers. There is a link between mental health distress and increased safety risks – experiencing mental health distress can adversely affect risk recognition and actions of workers both off and on the job. By treating mental health and its psychological component equally with the physical environment, a workplace can support their workers’ overall well-being. Poor mental health not only hurts the individual, it also reduces corporate profits. It is important that all levels of the workplace get involved to incorporate mental health at your workplace.

Key risk factors for mental health problems in the workplace

Key risk factors for mental health problems in the workplace include:

  • Workload (both excessive and insufficient work)
  • Lack of participation and control in the workplace
  • Monotonous or unpleasant tasks
  • Role ambiguity or conflict
  • Lack of recognition at work
  • Inequity
  • Poor interpersonal relationships
  • Poor working conditions
  • Poor leadership and communication
  • Conflicts between work and family life – these should complement each other.
  • Uncomfortable physical working conditions (extreme temperatures, poor ergonomy)
  • Practices, poor scheduling, infrequent breaks
  • Presenteeism – action of employees coming to work despite having a sickness that justifies an absence, therefore they are performing their work under sub-optimal conditions.
  • Harassment, Violence, Bullying and Mobbing – Most people think of violence as a physical assault. However, workplace violence is a much broader problem. It is any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment.
  • Fatigue at work (caused by long-term or chronic stress, poor working conditions, long working hours, poor sleeping patterns, personal reasons from home, etc.

Effect of the above risk factors on employees’ mental health and performance in the workplace

  • Employees who look exhausted because their sleep is impacted.
  • Employees who are skipping meals and breaks.
  • Employees taking work home, returning emails after 11 PM or when on vacation; or cancelling days off because they feel they are behind.
  • A sudden increase in sick days among employees.
  • Noticeable decreases in the quality or quantity of work product.
  • An increase in complaints about an employee.
  • Arguments between employees.
  • Emotional outbursts.
  • Threats towards co-workers.
  • Incidents of violence.
  • Substance Use, Misuse and Abuse at Work.

Hopefully, the problem can be caught at this level. Because what comes next is much more drastic, and, if you are an employer, it is troubling.

However, all hope is not lost. As workplace advocates and leaders, there are steps you can take to not only recognize these issues before they rear their heads, but that you can take to prevent them from even beginning.

Factors to be considered by Organizations in other to create a mentally healthy workplace:

Thirteen psychosocial risk (PSR) factors have been identified by researchers at Simon Fraser University based on extensive research and review of empirical data from national and international best practices. The factors were also determined based on existing and emerging Canadian case law and legislation.

  1. Psychological Support

A workplace where co-workers and supervisors are supportive of employees’ psychological and mental health concerns, and respond appropriately as needed. For some organizations, the most important aspect of psychological support may be to protect against traumatic stressors at work.

Employees that feel they have psychological support have greater job attachment, job commitment, job satisfaction, job involvement, positive work moods, desire to remain with the organization, organizational citizenship behaviours (behaviours of personal choice that benefit the organization) and job performance.

Employee perceptions of a lack of psychological support from their organization can lead to:

Increased absenteeism, withdrawal behaviours, conflict, strain – which can lead to fatigue, headaches, burnout and anxiety, loss of productivity, increased costs, greater risk of accidents, incidents and injuries.

  1. Organizational Culture

A workplace characterized by trust, honesty and fairness. Organizational culture, in general, are basic assumptions held by a particular group. These assumptions are a mix of values, beliefs, meanings and expectations that group members hold in common and that they use as cues to what is considered acceptable behaviour and how to solve problems.

Organizational trust is essential for any positive and productive social processes within any workplace. Trust is a predictor of cooperative behaviour, organizational citizenship behaviours (behaviours of personal choice that benefit the organization), organizational commitment, and employee loyalty. An organization that has a health-focused culture enhances employee well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment, which helps to retain and attract employees. A work culture with social support also enhances employee well-being by providing a positive environment for employees who may be experiencing psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Culture sets the tone for an organization – a negative culture can undermine the effectiveness of the best programs, policies and services intended to support the workforce. An unhealthy culture creates more stress, which lowers employee well-being. A culture of profit at all costs and constant chaotic urgency can create an environment in which burnout is the norm.

  1. Clear Leadership & Expectations

A workplace where there is effective leadership and support that helps employees know what they need to do, how their work contributes to the organization and whether there are impending changes.

Effective leadership increases employee morale, resiliency and trust, and decreases employee frustration and conflict. Good leadership results in employees with higher job well-being, reduced sick leave, and reduced early retirements with disability pensions. A leader who demonstrates a commitment to maintaining his or her own physical and psychological health can influence the health of employees (sickness, presenteeism, absenteeism) as well as the health of the organization as a whole (vigour, vitality, productivity).

Leaders who are more instrumental in their approach (focusing on producing outcomes, with little attention paid to the big picture, the psychosocial dynamics within the organization, and the individual employees) are more likely to hear staff health complaints including general feelings of malaise, irritability and nervousness. Similarly, leaders who do not demonstrate visible concern for their own physical and psychological health set a negative example for their staff and can undermine the legitimacy of any organizational program, policy and/or service intended to support employees. Middle managers are at greater risk because they must be leaders and be led simultaneously. This role conflict can lead to feelings of powerlessness and stress.

  1. Civility and Respect

A workplace where employees are respectful and considerate in their interactions with one another, as well as with customers, clients and the public. Civility and respect are based on showing esteem, care and consideration for others, and acknowledging their dignity.

A civil and respectful workplace is related to greater job satisfaction, greater perceptions of fairness, a more positive attitude, improved morale, better teamwork, greater interest in personal development, engagement in problem resolution, enhanced supervisor-staff relationships, and reduction in sick leave and turnover. Organizations characterized by civility and respect create a positive atmosphere marked by high spirits and work satisfaction. This civility allows people to enjoy the environment, whether they are staff, clients or customers.

A workplace that lacks civility and respect can lead to emotional exhaustion amongst staff, greater conflicts, and job withdrawal. A work environment that is uncivil and disrespectful also exposes organizations to the threat of more grievances and legal risks.

One example of disrespectful behaviour is bullying. Exposure to workplace bullying is associated with psychological complaints, depression, burnout, anxiety, aggression, psychosomatic complaints and musculoskeletal health complaints. Bullying not only affects those directly involved, but also affects bystanders, as they too experience higher levels of stress. A number of provinces currently have legislation to address such behaviours.

  1. Psychological Competencies & Requirements

A workplace where there is a good fit between employees’ interpersonal and emotional competencies, their job skills and the position they hold. A good fit means that the employees possess the technical skills and knowledge for a particular position as well as the psychological skills and emotional intelligence (self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, self-motivation, empathy and social deftness) to do the job. Note that a subjective job fit (when employees feel they fit their job) can be more important than an objective job fit (when the employee is assessed and matched to the job).

A good job fit is associated with: fewer health complaints, lower levels of depression, greater self-esteem, more positive self-concept, enhanced performance, job satisfaction and employee retention.

When there is a poor job fit, employees can experience job strain, which can be expressed as emotional distress and provocation, excessive dwelling on thoughts, defensiveness, energy depletion and lower mood levels. Organizationally, job misfit is linked to fewer applicants in the recruitment and training process, lack of enjoyment and engagement, poor productivity, conflict, and greater voluntary turnover.

  1. Growth & Development

A workplace where employees receive encouragement and support in the development of their interpersonal, emotional and job skills. This type of workplace provides a range of internal and external opportunities for employees to build their repertoire of competencies. It helps employees with their current jobs as well as prepares them for possible future positions.

Employee development increases goal commitment, organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Employees feel that organizations care when the organization supports growth and development. Skill acquisition and career development directly enhance employee well-being. It is important to ensure that opportunities go beyond learning specific technical skills, and also include opportunities to learn personal and interpersonal skills that are critical to successfully caring for oneself and relating to others.

Employees who are not challenged by their work will grow bored, their well-being will suffer, and their performance will drop. When staff do not have opportunities to learn and improve their interpersonal and psychological skills, the result can be conflict, disengagement and distress.

  1. Recognition and Reward

A workplace where there is appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of employees’ efforts in a fair and timely manner. This element includes appropriate and regular financial compensation as well as employee or team celebrations, recognition of years served, demonstrating/acting according to organizational values, and/or milestones reached.

Advantages of Recognition and reward: motivates employees, fuels the desire to excel, builds self-esteem, encourages employees to exceed expectations and enhances team success.

Employees receiving appropriate recognition and reward have more energy and enthusiasm, a greater sense of pride and participation in their work, and are more likely to treat colleagues and customers with courtesy, respect and understanding.

Lack of recognition and reward undermines employee confidence in their work and trust in the organization. Employees may feel demoralized or they may quit. An imbalance between effort and reward is a significant contributor to burnout and emotional distress leading to a range of psychological and physical disorders.

  1. Involvement and Influence

A workplace where employees are included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are made. Opportunities for involvement can relate to an employee’s specific job, the activities of a team or department, or issues involving the organization as a whole.

When employees feel they have meaningful input into their work they are more likely to be engaged, to have higher morale, and to take pride in their organization. This feeling, in turn, increases the willingness to make extra effort when required. Job involvement is associated with increased psychological well-being, enhanced innovation, and organizational commitment.

If employees do not believe they have a voice in the affairs of the organization, they tend to feel a sense of indifference or helplessness. Job alienation or non-involvement is associated with cynicism and distress, greater turnover, and burnout.

  1. Workload Management

A workplace where tasks and responsibilities can be accomplished successfully within the time available. A large workload is often described by employees as being the biggest workplace stressor (i.e., having too much to do and not enough time to do it). It is not only the amount of work that makes a difference but also the extent to which employees have the resources (time, equipment, support) to do the work well.

Most employees willingly work hard and feel a good day’s work is fulfilling and rewarding. Workload management is important because there is a unique relationship between job demands, intellectual demands and job satisfaction. Job demands reduce job satisfaction, while intellectual demands or decision-making latitude, increase job satisfaction. Even when there are high demands, if employees also have high decision-making ability, they will be able to thrive. Having high decision-making latitude also allows for positive coping behaviours to be learned and experienced.

Any system subject to excess load without reprieve will break. This is as true for people as it is for equipment. Increased demands, without opportunities for control, result in physical, psychological and emotional fatigue, and increase stress and strain. Emotionally fatigued individuals also have a diminished sense of personal accomplishment and an increased sense of inadequacy. Excessive workload is one of the main reasons employees are negative about their jobs and their employers.

  1. Engagement

Employees enjoy and feel connected to their work and where they feel motivated to do their job well. Employee engagement can be physical (energy exerted), emotional (positive job outlook and passionate about their work) or cognitive (devote more attention to their work and be absorbed in their job).

Engaged employees feel connected to their work because they can relate to, and are committed to, the overall success and mission of their company. Engagement is similar to, but should not be mistaken for job satisfaction, job involvement, organizational commitment, psychological empowerment, and intrinsic motivation.

Engagement is important for individual satisfaction and psychological health, and leads to: increased profitability for company, greater customer satisfaction, enhanced task performance, greater morale, greater motivation, increased organizational citizenship behaviours (behaviours of personal choice that benefit the organization)

Organizations that do not promote engagement can see: negative economic impact in productivity losses, psychological and medical consequences, have greater employee turnover, workplace deviance (in the form of withholding effort), counterproductive  behaviour and withdrawal behaviours.

  1. Balance

Present in a workplace where there is recognition of the need for balance between the demands of work, family and personal life. This factor reflects the fact that everyone has multiple roles employees, parents, partners, etc. These multiple roles can be enriching and allow for fulfillment of individual strengths and responsibilities, but conflicting responsibilities can lead to role conflict or overload. Greater workplace flexibility enables employees to minimize work-life conflict by allowing them to accomplish the tasks necessary in their daily lives.

Work-life balance is a state of well-being that allows a person to effectively manage multiple responsibilities at work, at home and in their community. Work-life balance is different for everyone and it supports physical, emotional, family and community health and does so without grief, stress or negative impact.

Recognizing the need for work-life balance: makes employees feel valued and happier both at work and at home, reduces stress and the possibility that home issues will spill over into work, or vice versa, allows staff to maintain their concentration, confidence, responsibility, and sense of control at work, results in enhanced employee well-being, commitment, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviours (behaviours of personal choice that benefit the organization), job performance and reduced stress

When work-family role conflict occurs (that is, roles within the workplace and outside it are overwhelming to a person or interfering with one another), health and well-being are undermined by accumulating home and job stress. This imbalance can lead to: constant tiredness, bad temper, inability to progress, high job stress resulting in dissatisfaction with work and being absent either physically or mentally.

These effects can then lead to additional stress-related illness, as well as higher cholesterol, depressive symptoms, and overall decreased health. The impact on the organization can include increased costs due to benefit payouts, absenteeism, disability, and turnover.

Not all employees will have the same work-life balance issues. Age, cultural, gender, family and marital status, care-giver demands, socioeconomic status and many other factors affect an employee’s work-life balance. Organizations will benefit from having flexible arrangements to address this issue.

  1. Psychological Protection

Workplace psychological safety is demonstrated when employees feel able to put themselves on the line, ask questions, seek feedback, report mistakes and problems, or propose a new idea without fearing negative consequences to themselves, their job or their career. A psychologically safe and healthy workplace actively promotes emotional well-being among employees while taking all reasonable steps to minimize threats to employee mental health.

When employees are psychologically protected they demonstrate greater job satisfaction, enhanced team learning behaviour and improved performance. Employees are more likely to speak up and become involved. They show increased morale and engagement and are less likely to experience stress-related illness. Psychologically protected workplaces also experience fewer grievances, conflicts and liability risks.

When employees are not psychologically safe, they experience demoralization, a sense of threat, disengagement, and strain. They perceive workplace conditions as ambiguous and unpredictable. This demoralization can, in turn, undermine shareholder, consumer, and public confidence in the organization.

  1. Protection of Physical Safety

This factor includes the work environment itself. Steps can be taken by management to protect the physical safety of employees. Examples include policies, training, appropriate response to incidents or situations identified as risks, and a demonstrated concern for employees’ physical safety.

Employees who work in an environment that is perceived as physically safe will feel more secure and engaged. Higher levels in the confidence of the safety protection at work results in lower rates of psychological distress and mental health issues. Safety is enhanced through minimizing hazards, training, response to incidents, and the opportunity to have meaningful input into the workplace policies and practices. The concept of ‘safety climate’ is linked to this factor as they both relate to the larger culture or climate of the organization.

Failure to protect physical safety results in workplaces that are likely to be more dangerous. Not only could employees be injured or develop illnesses, those who do not see their workplace as physically safe will feel less secure and less engaged.

Mental health can affect worker safety and productivity. Even if no actual illness is diagnosed, it’s easy to imagine how a worker’s mental state might affect his or her ability to make good decisions and recognize potential hazards.

The best companies invest in the health and well-being of their workers. Workers bring that good health back to work in the form of increased productivity, decreased injury and illness risk, decreased health care spending, and more engagement with their work.

Therefore, companies are advised to provide education and training that ensures managers and employees know how to recognize hazards such as harassment, bullying, and psychologically unhealthy work conditions. This training provides concrete ways for co-workers to recognize and talk about mental health issues in general. Managers can additionally contribute to a positive work environment if they have the skills and knowledge to identify and respond to issues before they escalate.

 

 

Mental Health Prevalence in Children and Youth

According to World Health Organization (WHO), “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those “persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States”. By that definition, therefore, children are those persons under the age of 14.’’

Mental health disorders account for the highest burden of disease among young people worldwide. More than 50% of mental health disorders can be diagnosed before the age of 25, making childhood and youth years a critical time for mental health promotion. Early identification and access to effective treatment is very important.

Having a mental health disorder at a young age is different from having one as an adult. When a developing child or youth is afflicted with a mental health disorder, it becomes difficult for them to acquire the necessary skills and habits that they should, at that time in their lives. Prevention of a disorder at a young age may significantly decrease the chances that a child will suffer from a disorder later in life. Promoting healthy behaviours and taking steps to better protect young people from health risks are critical for the prevention of health problems in adulthood.

Therefore, it is strongly advised that parents should keep an eye on their children if they have any reason to believe that something is not right. If they are evaluated of any mental health disorder earlier, treating and managing it become easier.

Early signs of Mental Health Disorder in Children and Youth

There is no medical test or scan that reliably indicates whether a person has developed a mental illness. However, people should look out for the following as possible signs of a mental health disorder:

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
  • Avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having consistently low energy
  • Using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently
  • Displaying negative emotions
  • Being confused
  • Being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal
  • Having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
  • Thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
  • Hearing voices
  • Experiencing delusions

Key risk factors for mental health disorders in Children and Youth

  • Civil conflicts and Political instability
  • Poverty
  • Underemployment and unemployment
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Child Abuse
  • Molestation and Rape
  • Violence
  • Diseases and ill Health (such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and the current COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Social Influence, Bullying and Stigmas
  • Homelessness

Common Mental Health Disorders in Children and Youth

Anxiety disorder and panic attacks

When a child has an anxiety disorder, they begin to lack proper social interaction and associate many ordinary things with intense fear. This can be scary for the child because they don’t necessarily understand why they act and think the way they do. Anxiety is a normal emotion that we all experience. Most of the time, these emotions are not a problem. People who struggle with anxiety disorder often find themselves struggling with low self-esteem. They may have poor confidence in themselves or think they are worthless.

Depression

Depression is diagnosed if a person experiences these symptoms for more than 2 weeks: Feeling sad, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, difficulty concentrating and making decision, changes in appetite, overeating or not eating enough, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, fatigue, restless activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech, feelings of worthlessness or guilt and thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) – Anger  

Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is an impulse-control disorder characterized by sudden episodes of unwarranted anger. The disorder is typified by hostility, impulsivity, and recurrent aggressive outbursts. People with IED essentially “explode” into a rage despite a lack of apparent provocation or reason.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause extreme periods of low (depressed) and high (manic) moods.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder in which you cannot stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It is characterized by unstable moods, behaviour and relationships.

Dissociation and dissociative disorders

It is a mental process where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. Dissociative disorders include dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, depersonalisation disorder and dissociative identity disorder.

Drugs & alcohol addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you are addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.

Eating disorder/problems

An eating disorder is when someone has unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behavior around food.

Hearing voices

Mental health professionals may call hearing voices an ‘auditory hallucination’. A hallucination is where you might see, hear, taste, smell or feel something that exists only in your mind. It can be a common symptom of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or severe depression.

Hoarding

Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.

Hypomania and mania

Mania and hypomania are periods where a person feels elated, very active, and full of energy. Hypomania is a milder form of mania. Mania and hypomania both involve periods when the individual feels excited or experiences an energized mood.

Loneliness

Loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

It is a mental disorder in which a person feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly (called “compulsions”), or has certain thoughts repeatedly (called “obsessions”), to an extent which generates distress or impairs general functioning.

Panic attacks

Sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety and physical symptoms, based on a perceived threat rather than imminent danger.

Paranoid Personality disorder (PPD)

People with PPD suffer from paranoia, an unrelenting mistrust and suspicion of others, even when there is no reason to be suspicious.

Personality disorders

A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.

Phobias

Phobias are a persistent, intense, and unrealistic fear of a certain object or situation.

Postnatal depression & perinatal mental health

This is a depression that occurs after childbirth. Those who develop postpartum depression are at greater risk of developing major depression later on in life. Symptoms might include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability and difficulty bonding with the baby.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis given to people who develop a certain set of symptoms following a traumatic event.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

PMDD causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts. Symptoms usually go away two to three days after your period starts.

Psychosis

Psychosis is a term used to describe when a person perceives the world in a different way to those around them. This can include how a person will experience, believe or view things.

Schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood, thoughts and behavior.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks. It may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

A mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.

Self-harm

Self-harm is when someone purposely hurts themselves, usually in order to cope with intense emotional distress.

Sleep problems or Insomnia

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. Insomnia, the inability to get to sleep or sleep well at night, can be caused by stress, jet lag, a health condition, the medications you take, or even the amount of coffee you drink.

Suicidal feelings

This is when someone thinks of taking their own life.

Trauma

Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causing feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences.

Specific ways to promote mental health in Children and Youth include:

  1. Early childhood interventions (e.g. providing a stable environment that is sensitive to children’s health and nutritional needs, with protection from threats, opportunities for early learning, and interactions that are responsive, emotionally supportive and developmentally stimulating);
  2. Support to children (e.g. life skills programs, child and youth development programs);
  3. Socio-economic empowerment of youth (e.g. improving access to education and microcredit schemes);
  4. Programs targeted at vulnerable people, including minorities, indigenous people, migrants and people affected by conflicts and disasters (e.g. psycho-social interventions after disasters);
  5. Mental health promotional activities in schools (e.g. programs involving supportive ecological changes in schools);
  6. Housing policies for the homeless
  7. Violence prevention programs (e.g. Prevent access to drugs and arms, promote ‘’drink responsibly’’ among youth);
  8. Poverty reduction and social protection for the poor;
  9. Anti-discrimination laws and campaigns;
  10. Promotion of the rights, opportunities and care of individuals with mental disorders.

Mental Health Care and Treatment

It is always important to take psychiatric care for the patient with mental health illness. Although it is considered a stigmatized and spiritual matter sometimes, however nowadays people are getting aware of these things and seeking medical treatment and psychosocial counseling for their betterment.

Therefore, building life skills in children and youth and providing them with psychosocial support in schools and other community settings can help promote good mental health. Programs to help strengthen the ties between the youth and their families are also important. If problems arise, they should be detected and managed by competent and caring health workers.

Treatment Methods for Mental health disorders include:

Pharmacotherapy/Medication

Pharmacotherapy/Medication is a therapy that uses pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmacotherapy is used in the treatment of mental illness through the use of antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, and anxiolytic drugs. These drugs do not really cure mental disorders, rather, they can improve symptoms and help a person resume social interaction and a normal routine while they work on their mental health.

Physical activity

For some people, physical exercise can improve mental as well as physical health. Playing sports, walking, cycling or doing any form of physical activity trigger the production of various hormones, sometimes including endorphins, which can elevate a person’s mood.

Activity therapies

Activity therapies, also called recreation therapy and occupational therapy, promote healing through active engagement. Making crafts can be a part of occupational therapy. Walks can be a part of recreation therapy. In recent years colouring has been recognized as an activity which has been proven to significantly lower the levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety in many studies.

Expressive therapies

Expressive therapies or creative arts therapies are a form of psychotherapy that involves the arts or art-making. These therapies include art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, and poetry therapy. It has been proven that Music therapy is an effective way of helping people who suffer from a mental health disorder.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the general term for scientific based treatment of mental health issues based on modern medicine. Examples are Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychedelic therapy, transpersonal psychology/psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Dialectical behavioral therapy.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and some primary care physicians carry out this type of treatment.

It can help people understand the root of their mental illness and start to work on more healthful thought patterns that support everyday living and reduce the risk of isolation and self-harm.

Meditation

The practice of mindfulness meditation has several mental health benefits, such as bringing about reductions in depression, anxiety and stress. Mindfulness meditation may also be effective in treating substance use disorders. Further, mindfulness meditation appears to bring about favorable structural changes in the brain.

Mental fitness

Mental fitness is a mental health movement that encourages people to intentionally regulate and maintain their emotional wellbeing through friendship, regular human contact and activities that include meditation, calming exercises, aerobic exercise, and mindfulness, having a routine and maintaining adequate sleep. Mental fitness is intended to build resilience against every-day mental health challenges to prevent an escalation of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, and help them cope with the escalation of those feelings if they occur.

Spiritual Counseling

Spiritual counselors meet with people in need to offer comfort and support and to help them gain a better understanding of their issues. These types of counselors deliver care based on spiritual, psychological and theological principles.

Although, this is often misconstrued by some religious leaders, who believe that mental health disorders are signs of possession by the devil. This has led to several mentally ill patients being dehumanized, as practiced in the ancient days, before Dorothea Dix, a retired Boston teacher who is considered the founder of the Mental Health Movement, began a crusade in 1943 that would change the way people with mental disorders are viewed and treated. She submitted a Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts, describing the abusive treatment and horrible conditions received by the mentally ill patients in jails, cages, closets, cellars and pits, chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.

Self-help

A person coping with mental health difficulties will usually need to make changes to their lifestyle to facilitate wellness. Such changes might include reducing alcohol intake, sleeping more and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. People may need to take time away from work or resolve issues with personal relationships that may be causing damage to their mental health.

People with conditions such as an anxiety or depressive disorder may benefit from relaxation techniques, which include deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness.

Having a support network (e.g. Volunteer groups, close friends and family, pets) can also be essential to recovery from mental illness.

Friends are a support system for the child and family as a whole.

Living with a mental disorder is never easy, so it’s always important to have people around to make the days a little easier. However, there are negative factors that come with the social aspect of mental illness as well. Parents are sometimes held responsible for their child’s illness. People also say that the parents raised their children in a certain way or they acquired their behavior from them. Family and friends are sometimes so ashamed of the idea of being close to someone with a disorder that the child feels isolated and thinks that they have to hide their illness from others when in reality, hiding it from people prevents the child from getting the right amount of social interaction and treatment in order to thrive in today’s society.

Therefore, it is strongly advised that parents should keep an eye on their children if they have any reason to believe that something is not right. If they are evaluated of any mental health disorder earlier, treating and managing it become easier.

 

 

World Mental Health Day 2020-October 10, 2020

world mental health day 2020

Today is the World Mental Health Day.

It is an internationally recognized day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

The slogan for the 2020 World mental health day is: Move for mental health: let’s invest.

It was first celebrated on October 10, 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization.

An annual awareness program is held to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ lives worldwide.

Today, The World Health Organization (WHO) have lined up events through social media platforms to mark the event.

World leaders and internationally-recognized celebrities and mental health advocates will come together for the WHO’s Big Event for Mental Health.

WHO’s first-ever online advocacy event for mental health will focus on the urgent need to address the world’s chronic under-investment in mental health ̶a problem that has been thrown into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to WHO, close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.

And now, billions of people around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental health.

The WHO Big Event today is free and open to the public, and will be broadcasted on from 16:00-19:00 CEST on WHO’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok channels and website.

The Big Event, to be hosted by award-winning journalist Femi Oke, will feature an exciting line-up of performances and conversations with celebrities and activists about their motivations for advocating for greater investment in mental health, including:

Cynthia Germanotta: President and Co-Founder (with her daughter Lady Gaga) of Born This Way Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Mental Health.

Alisson Becker: Goalkeeper for Liverpool Football Club and the Brazilian National Football Team and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health Promotion.

Natália Loewe Becker: Medical doctor and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Health Promotion.

Talinda Bennington: Widow of Linkin Park lead vocalist Chester Bennington and founding partner of the mental health advocacy organization 320 Changes Direction.

KlasBergling: Father of DJ, musician and producer Tim “Avicii” Bergling and Co-founder of the Tim Bergling Foundation.

Korede Bello: Nigerian singer and songwriter.

Jonny Benjamin: Mental health campaigner, film producer and public speaker.

During the event, national and international leaders who have championed mental health in their own countries and organizations will talk about the benefits of this commitment. They include:

Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians; Epsy Campbell Barr, First Vice-President of Costa Rica; Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, the Netherlands; Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Muhammad Ali Pate: Global Director, Health, Nutrition and Population, World Bank .

The Big Event and this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign, with the slogan: Move for mental health: let’s invest, will highlight actions that can be taken at all levels to increase investments in mental health: at the individual level, taking personal action that supports one’s own mental health and that of friends, family and the wider community; at the national level, establishing or scaling up mental health services; and at the global level, investing in global programmes to promote mental health.

In addition to appearances from celebrities, advocates and world leaders, The Big Event will include short films highlighting WHO and partner initiatives that are improving mental health around the world.

The films feature programmes spanning countries from Jordan, Kenya, Paraguay, the Philippines and Ukraine.

They cover a range of mental health issues including self-help and stress management, adolescent mental health, mental health and health workers, suicide prevention and improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers.

The winner of best mental health film, a newly created category in WHO’s Health for All Film Festival, will also be announced during the event.

“Mental health is a concern for all of us,” said DévoraKestel, Director of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use.

“Yet, for several decades, investment in mental health has fallen woefully short of what is needed, in every country of the world.

COVID-19 has made painfully clear the need to ensure that our mental health services are not only robust enough to be able to provide care through alternative means when visits to health centres are no longer possible, but also able to provide support to greater numbers of people.

The Big Event will highlight that there is a way forward, when there is a commitment to investment, and that such investment has positive benefits that go far beyond public health.”