A recent study indicates that one in every five Maldivians experiences depression or other similar mental health issues, the Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem revealed on Monday.
At the opening ceremony of the national mental health awareness campaign "Kihineih?", the health minister stated that health and well-being encompass physical, mental and social well-being.
Minister Naseem quoted findings from the World Health Organisation's (WHO) STEP report on Risk Factors for Non-Communicable Diseases in the Maldives, which indicates that one in every five people from the Maldives experiences depression. He also added that the increase in noncommunicable diseases has amplified mental health problems in the country.
"The most important step towards establishing a wholesome society is improving mental well-being in the community," the Minister said, addressing the attendees. "There's still room for improvement in terms of increasing awareness and prevention. But it is still important to recognise self-care methods and adjust your lifestyle in order to become a healthy, fit individual."
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister stated that the biggest challenge in the health sector was the growing mental health problems, and that improving mental health facilities has now been prioritised. However, Minister Naseem noted that the government had begun resolving the issue before declaring the issue a priority. He said that locals are now able to access mental health services from their islands of residence.
Speaking about the factors related to deteriorating mental health, the minister noted the prevalence of drug abuse, which leads to criminal activity among youth, as a contributing factor to the problem. He also highlighted the negative impacts of social media as another factor, and urged the public to be wary of these causes.
Before concluding his speech, Minister Naseem expressed hope that the situation would turn around for the better soon, and affirmed the government's commitment to increase the number of mental health professionals in the country.
The "Kihineh?" campaign aims to address the stigma attached to mental health and related issues, promote awareness and understanding, and create a more tolerant, nurturing, and compassionate community. The year-long campaign is being carried out in partnership with UNICEF Maldives.