Mental Health Day 2017

Today is Mental health day, started 15 years ago, and whilst not necessarily something to celebrate, it is positive that we are talking about and thinking  about mental health as almost everyone has been impacted by mental health issues personally, or someone they know has. As dementia comes under the umbrella of mental health at the WHO, I’m currently in Geneva representing Dementia Alliance International attending the 2017 mhGAP forum.

As dementia comes under the umbrella of mental health at the WHO, and is in that health category in most countries, it is important we have a voice here.

The WHO launched an App yesterday during the forum, which you can download for your iPhone from the Apple store. It will be available for Android phones soon as well. The image on the left is a screen shot from the App store.

Being under the umbrella of mental health is actually an issue for me, as technically dementia is not a mental health problem but rather, is a neurological condition, and it keeps the myth alive that dementia is a mental health issue.

It also means we experience double stigma, as mental health is still quite stigmatised, and dementia is even more so.

Some people with dementia do have mental health issues, but so do, for example, people with heart disease, cancer or diabetes. But not to be under that umbrella at the WHO, would mean that people living in Low and Middle Income countries would not receive any health care, so for now, it needs to stay under that umbrella.

In thinking about mental health, and because dementia comes under that umbrella, I wanted to close todays blog thinking about dementia more positively. I recently posted a blog on my Living Beyond Dementia™ website, the first one for some time, as I truly believe it is an exciting time for people with dementia. This is not because we are any closer to a cure nor any disease modifying drugs for dementia than we were ten years ago, but because of the increasing amounts of risk reduction evidence, and the research and programs that are reversing or significantly slowing down dementia. You can read my blog about it here…

I am a realist, and am also sick of the media articles claiming this or that trial is about to be the cure for dementia. This is misleading, and gives people who are often feeling desperate, a false sense of hope. It is unkind, to say the least! It is why I work so hard for change, and am so excited about Bredesens’s research and new book, which I am half way through.

8 thoughts on “Mental Health Day 2017

  1. Everything you have said there is so true Kate, and you have done a wonderful job as always. It sure is important that we talk about mental health and our emotions so people understand how we are feeling and have empathy for us. I hate how people say dementia is a “mental health” illness. Neurological and mental health are 2 completely different things and people need to be aware of it. Examples of illnesses that are “classified” as “mental health” is bipolar and depression, and examples of illnesses that are “classified” as “neurological” are dementia(any form-frontotemporal dementia, lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and alzhiermers), and multiple slcerosis(ms). I agree entirely with you kate, that dementia is a neurological condition/illness NOT a mental health condition/illness. That is so true Kate-it is not only people who have dementia have mental health issues-there are people who have had/have cancer, and heart failure who have “mental health” issues-and people need to be aware that dementia is not the only illness where some people have mental health issues other illnesses too. I agree, i am sick of all the articles globally of saying there is going to be a “cure” for dementia, when it wont be for awhile and the most recent evideince says there is NO cure for dementia. Well Kate, that it from me now, and i really enjoy writing comments here-a wonderful way to communicate with you☺take care, sam💜

  2. Hey Kate! Great post! Today is World Mental Health Day and it is so great to see so many people voicing their opinions and speaking up about mental illnesses. Mental illnesses are extremely serious and they have now become common. As you said, almost everyone battles with mental illnesses or knows someone who does. There is a lot of stigma attached to this issue as well, which limits people from seeking any help or speaking up. A lot of people may feel that they will be judged if they seek help or feel like they may be treated differently if people come to know about their conditions. However, I believe it is extremely important to encourage people who battle with mental illnesses to seek help early on, in order to prevent further risks to their mental health. I’m running a campaign on providing tips, information, and personal stories on stress and my aim is to raise awareness and encourage people to take action when they feel stressed out. I’d love it if you could head over to my campaign and check it out.

    I also did a post today on World Mental Health Day which you can read about here:
    https://stresslesstips.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/world-mental-health-day-10-10-17/

    The campaign is being run on three different platforms with different content, but my main platform for my posts is WordPress. Check them out for more information regarding stress and tips on how to cope with stress.

    stresslesstips.wordpress.com
    https://www.facebook.com/stresslesstips/

    Catch you soon!

    -RS #StressLessTips

  3. I keep saying it: dementia results from damage to the brain; mental illness is an affective disorder of the mind. I wonder if we recite this often enough they will eventually catch on!

    • I have managed to get the WHO to add in a category under mental health for people with dementia or with Autism – so we are at least classed as people with cognitive disabilities xx

  4. Hey Kate,
    As usual I totally agree with you.

    1. I think there is a definite confusion occurring in the classification of dementia as a mental health condition given they are nowhere in the same category in my experience.
    I am a dementia consultant not a psychiatric consultant/nurse. I made that choice very early on in my career because the care and nature of the conditions are so different.
    It is a completely different specialty and cannot be placed under the same umbrella.

    I do not believe a condition that occurs because of neurological changes can be considered the same as imbalances that occur in mental health conditions.

    2. I understand the need to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Just as I do for all conditions that our population live with in great numbers.

    How about the people living with dementia in the now????

    So many of the theories out there are obviously useless, and waste so much money that could be devoted to and allocated to providing adequate care to the millions of people world wide living with dementia, who deserve to benefit from optimum care right now.
    We cannot justify the ongoing neglect of those living with dementia in the present.

    No cure will be found until it is worked out WHY the changes occur in the brain in any case, so all these people looking for cures and giving false hope are wasting time and resources.
    You cannot cure something that you don’t understand why it occurs.

    I’m a bit over the hype.

    Grasping at straws and writing studies that indicate no more real progression, creates unfair expectations in those desiring a cure. It’s so unfair and cruel.

    Here lies the paradox. Do we spend all our funds on research, thus neglecting the crucial and largely unmet needs in the present of those living with dementia???

    It would be more humane and kind to our population to stop promoting information in the manner where false hope is continued.

    I want a cure as much as everyone, and to witness this in my lifetime would be brilliant,

    Love and light my friend.

    Leah. xxx

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