Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide…

World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is observed every year on this date and aims to educate and raise awareness of mental health issues. The focus of this year’s WMHD is suicide prevention.

Carers across the world do an amazing job caring for loved ones who live with a variety of mental health conditions. However, what is often overlooked is the impact that caring can have on the mental health of the carers themselves. Our research in India, Nepal and Bangladesh has found that on average, 79% of carers experience anxiety or depression. Common concerns of carers that contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression include worrying about their financial situation, not having free time for respite, and being isolated from their other relatives and community.

We think it is vital that carers look after their own mental health and our projects aim to ease the mental health challenges that carers face. Tools we have used to protect the mental wellbeing of carers include facilitating access to professional mental health services for the carers, providing counselling sessions for carers, and establishing carers groups which provide a platform to share their worries and concerns about their caring role.

Our work has played a tremendous role in looking after the mental health of many of the carers we work with. Speaking at the Regional Learning Exchange Workshop that was held in Bangalore last month, carers from the state of Karnataka who are beneficiaries of our project with SAMUHA Samarthya explained how many carers in our their self-help groups had thoughts of suicide prior to the start of the Carers Project as they felt that there was no hope for their situations and that their lives would continue to be a struggle. However, since becoming involved in the project, they are no longer having these thoughts and for the first time are seeing a positive future.

Carer discussing previous thoughts of suicide at Regional Learning Exchange Workshop

As part of this year’s World Mental Health Day, the World Health Organization are asking people to take ”40 seconds of action” to improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global health problem, to reduce the stigma associated with suicide and to let people who are struggling know that they are not alone. To find out how you can take part in this action, check out this flyer.