By September 8, 2016 Read More →

Mental Health and Wellness at the Heart of the Sustainable Development Goals

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Permanent Missions of Canada and Palau to the United Nations collaborated with the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) to address this much needed worldwide concern: Mental Health and Wellness at the Heart of the Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim to explore some concrete means of implementation.

I was very pleased to see a full room of participants, around 450, which clearly indicates the urgency of this issue.

The lively opening performances by the Rybin Studio of Drama Youth Performers and Hugg-A-Planet set a happy tone that put everyone in a light mood for the deep discussions that followed.

Attendees at the Mental Health & Wellness event

Attendees and performers at the Mental Health & Wellness event

Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, H.E. Marc-Andre Blanchard, in his welcome address, remarked that mental health was something that was never discussed however, it is vital at this time. Why? The increase in the number of traumatic situations has given rise to two types of people suffering from mental health issues – those facing the crisis, for example, the refugees, and secondly, the peacekeepers. If mental wellness is not addressed now, the progress of the SDGs will be hampered.

Other areas which pose a threat to the mental wellness of a person are bullying, unemployment, older persons with dementia (perhaps the stigma, “it is age” is attached to this) and to note that suicide is often used as a way out.

H.E. Dr. Caleb Otto, Permanent Mission of Palau to the UN, captured everyone’s hearts by saying that the SDGs are the affairs of the heart, that a good heart implies a good person which implies happiness. He stated this is what the world needs – happiness!! He brought our attention to the fact that there are two things that make up our beings – head (body) and heart (mind and soul). It is in the heart that virtues, values and wellness reside. The UN motto of ‘Leaving no one behind’ should not just be about meeting the physical needs of a person  but very importantly, to satisfy their psychological needs also! And this includes all of everyone, not excluding the indigenous people!

Many other deep concerns were raised such as: suicide, depression, psychosomatic conditions, post-trauma dis-orders, the need for administering appropriate treatment, and the active role of governments in all of this, including partnerships with NGOs.

The later part of the event focused on various organizations/institutions sharing their success stories from across the world.

Food for thought: A person functions in a holistic manner when all of their physical (body) and emotional and spiritual (heart/soul) needs are met. If we want a happy world to live in in the future (which I feel we all do), then it is our collective responsibility to take care of ourselves and  offer each other what is needed for their mental wellness.

Like Robert Forenza, of Hugg-A-Planet, stated ‘Love is why we are here.’

Hug A Planet with Truthfulness

Hug A Planet with Truthfulness

I would like to close by sharing with you a gift that was given to all attendees from Mr. Forenza – a virtue card with the image of the world. Mine was,’Truthfulness – the quality of being truthful; honesty – reverence for that which transcends opinion.’

Posted in: Health

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