The Week dedicated to World Mental Health Day was opened at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University with a roundtable discussion “Mental Health and Society.” Experts in medicine, media, psychology and law launched a discussion on correct forms of disseminating information about people with mental health problems. They also spoke about the importance of engaging these people in public life, as well as public empathy, stigma, persisting in the modern-day society towards people with mental health problems.
“It is the issue which needs much work. We should avoid stigmas and deconstruct what is happening now. This problem should be solved. Serious forces are involved in the process and I am sure that the work will yield its results,” Rector of TSU, George Sharvashidze said.
Vice Rector of TSU, Prof. Nino Okribelashvili said that the projects concerning the issues of suicide prevention should be implemented not only by special organizations, but also by the government structures. “The question is about educational activities so that we, the society, understand that people with mental health problems are the members of our society and we should take care of them. Suicide can be prevented if we find 40 seconds for delivering information, 40 seconds for expressing support and 40 seconds for frank conversation. We should develop a strategy, provide interesting and important information to the public through media outlets to ensure that they do not have a feeling of estrangement from the people with mental health problems, who need special social and medical support,” Prof. Nino Okribelashvili said.
Lasha Kiladze, head of the Center for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction, also participated in the roundtable discussion. “Due to the lack of information, we come across the problems, stigma, estrangement, separation, a feeling of being ostracized among people with mental health problems. It always returns like a boomerang to the society. So, education, absence of taboo, open, public involvement of mass media and academic community is the only correct way the society should choose. Public solidarity towards its most vulnerable members is the major indicator of public firmness, sustainability and success,” Lasha Kiladze said.
Tamar Gabunia and Zaza Bokhua, deputy ministers of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Rusudan Kokhodze, deputy head of the Department of Persons with Disabilities at the Public Defender’s Office, Eka Chkonia, chair of the Society of Georgian Psychiatrists, Tina (Tiko) Tsomaia, Professor at Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, as well as representatives of media and academic community attended the event and participated in the discussion.
“It is important that the society, non-governmental sector, government work together on the reduction of mental health-related stigma. Patients should have dignified conditions to receive relevant medical aid; more attention should be paid to prevention. The purpose of the today’s meeting is to create correct perceptions about the risks of suicide and use those 40 seconds we may have for saving the life of each person,” Tamar Gabunia, deputy minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, said.
An exhibition of paintings by patients with mental health problems was held on the sidelines of the event.
World Mental Health Day is marked on October 10. This year, the theme is suicide prevention with a slogan “40 seconds of action”. Its goal is to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.
According to the World Health Organization, “every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide.” So, 40 seconds are enough to stop suicide – 40 seconds for frank conversation, 40 seconds for attention, 40 seconds for delivering information, 40 seconds for expressing support … stop suicide!
During the Week dedicated to World Mental Health Day, the Center for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction will organize a series of activities to support people with mental health problems. The Week will be ended on October 10 with an event “With our own eyes,” in frames of which an open art therapy lesson will be held with the participation of the Center’s beneficiaries.