When I hear 'silence', my mind drifts vaguely to the way mental health is treated in the society I was raised, and live in. Worldwide, there's been continuous noise about mental health awareness. The World Health Organization, in conjunction with the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020; numerous organizations have been set up in and around continents, championing the cause for the world's widely marginalized mentally disordered citizenry.
So why do 90% of mental illness victims still commit suicide?
I can answer from my point of view in Ghana, Africa. A perpetual cover lies over mental awareness issues merely because it's a foreign concept to most Ghanaians. Don't even mention self-mutilation or self harm; your argument will immediately be attributed to Westernalization and an education that barely does anything to help the situation either ways. In the Ghanaian culture, mental anomalies are often attributed to evil spirits, psychiatric disorder patients damned to constant stigma, marginalization and the worst of them, forced imprisonment. It baffles me and a lot of people in my generation how this continues to happen, especially in a world of an upheaval of racial issues. But we remember that different cultural backgrounds and mindset play a massive role.
If you take away the secrecy and excessive decorum that flowers the Ghanaian, and to a large extent, African culture, you have a melange of three generations battling each other to maintain things, be better that the other and make a difference. It's not an easy battle to fight. I cannot openly tell a group of middle-aged people that mental health remains a growing canker among youth, arising from family pressure, verbal abuse passed off as discipline and teasing taken as growing up.Nobody, at least in my generation, enjoys the silence. I know a lot of MUNers don't, because to be able to model the United Nations, you need a certain fibre of defiance and willpower for change in you. For the UN to change the mental health scene, cultures and societies have to learn to adapt - to change, to tolerance, to health that's not explicitly expressed. The campaign continues - slowly but surely - and it's with every core of me that I hope the United Nations,together with leaders local and international, upturns the silence before it takes over the world.