Whilst the pandemic has, and continues to, take its toll on our mental health, the ability to reconnect through World Mental Health Day 2022 will provide us with an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to protect and improve mental health.


Many aspects of mental health have been challenged; and already before the pandemic in 2019 an estimated one in eight people globally were living with a mental disorder. At the same time, the services, skills and funding available for mental health remain in short supply, and fall far below what is needed, especially in low and middle income countries.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened.


Growing social and economic inequalities, protracted conflicts, violence and public health emergencies affect whole populations, threatening progress towards improved well-being; a staggering 84 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced during 2021.  We must deepen the value and commitment we give to mental health as individuals, communities and governments and match that value with more commitment, engagement and investment by all stakeholders, across all sectors.  We must strengthen mental health care so that the full spectrum of mental health needs is met through a community-based network of accessible, affordable and quality services and supports.


Stigma and discrimination continue to be a barrier to social inclusion and access to the right care; importantly, we can all play our part in increasing awareness about which preventive mental health interventions work and World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to do that collectively. We envision a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights; and where everyone can access the mental health care they need. 


WHO will work with partners to launch a campaign around the theme of Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority. This will be an opportunity for people with mental health conditions, advocates, governments, employers, employees and other stakeholders to come together to recognize progress in this field and to be vocal about what we need to do to ensure Mental Health & Well-Being becomes a Global Priority for all.


Campaign slogan

Make mental health & well-being for all a global priority


Hashtag

#WorldMentalHealthDay


Credit : WHO


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Key facts


Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing.

Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing.


Currently more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.


Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.


Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.


Dementia has physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia, but also for their carers, families and society at large.

Dementia is a syndrome – usually of a chronic or progressive nature – that leads to deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement. Consciousness is not affected. The impairment in cognitive function is commonly accompanied, and occasionally preceded, by changes in mood, emotional control, behaviour, or motivation.


Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke.


Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. Dementia has physical, psychological, social and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia, but also for their carers, families and society at large. There is often a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia, resulting in stigmatization and barriers to diagnosis and care.


Signs and symptoms

Dementia affects each person in a different way, depending upon the underlying causes, other health conditions and the person’s cognitive functioning before becoming ill. The signs and symptoms linked to dementia can be understood in three stages.


Early stage: the early stage of dementia is often overlooked because the onset is gradual. Common symptoms may include:


forgetfulness

losing track of the time

becoming lost in familiar places.

Middle stage: as dementia progresses to the middle stage, the signs and symptoms become clearer and may include:


becoming forgetful of recent events and people's names

becoming confused while at home

having increasing difficulty with communication

needing help with personal care

experiencing behaviour changes, including wandering and repeated questioning

Late stage: the late stage of dementia is one of near total dependence and inactivity. Memory disturbances are serious and the physical signs and symptoms become more obvious and may include:


becoming unaware of the time and place

having difficulty recognizing relatives and friends

having an increasing need for assisted self-care

having difficulty walking

experiencing behaviour changes that may escalate and include aggression.

Common forms of dementia

There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (abnormal aggregates of protein that develop inside nerve cells), and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia (degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain). Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitive physical injuries to the brain (known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy) or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.


Rates of dementia

Worldwide, around 55 million people have dementia, with over 60% living in low- and middle-income countries. As the proportion of older people in the population is increasing in nearly every country, this number is expected to rise to 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.


Risk factors and prevention


Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people – young onset dementia (defined as the onset of symptoms before the age of 65 years) accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.


Source: World Health Organisation


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