First Lady speaks on significance of mental health support

First Lady Fazna Ahmed made a virtual address at the high-level roundtable on "Rethinking Mental Health: A Commonwealth Call to EMPOWER, Care and Transform. (Photo / President's Office)

First Lady Fazna Ahmed on Wednesday emphasised the significance of mental health support, at a time when global events lead to mental illnesses.

She made the remarks during her virtual address at the high-level roundtable on "Rethinking Mental Health: A Commonwealth Call to EMPOWER, Care and Transform," held on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Currently, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the First Lady are in Rwanda from June 20-25, 2022 to attend the meeting.

"Rethinking Mental Health: A Commonwealth Call to EMPOWER, Care and Transform" echoes the Commonwealth's principle of promoting access to affordable healthcare and removing wide disparities and unequal living standards.

In her message at the event, the First Lady stated that global events such as conflicts that raise the cost of living and climate change continue to inflict severe levels of anxiety and depression on many. She further described the challenges in Maldives to provide services and care for mental health patients.

Moreover, highlighting significant gaps in mental health systems across the globe, the First Lady emphasised the limitations on the availability of mental health professionals, the dispersion Maldivian islands, limitations in recruitment and long waiting lists.

She further acknowledged the steps that were taken to develop mental health services across the country, including adopting the National Mental Health Strategic Plan – aimed at ensuring inclusive and effective psychosocial support and expanding the national universal health insurance scheme to cover mental health illnesses.

The administration also established the Centre for Mental Health at the government-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in March 2019.

In addition to this, Fazna spoke of the importance of strengthening mental health services and removing stigma, stating that it leads to more significant numbers of people seeking help, staying in school, being treated, and learning to continue their careers and lives.

She called for more substantial financial investment in mental health services, inclusive access, research, and ensuring practitioners maintain a strict code of ethics.