Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. It is related to the promotion of overall health, the prevention of disease, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people negatively affected by illness.

Good mental health is related to mental and psychological well-being. Infinity Mind Foundation work to improve the mental health of individuals and society includes the promotion of mental well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, the protection of human rights, support and the care of people affected by mental disorders.

Promoting mental health and well-being, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, are integral parts of the Sustainable Development Agenda to transform our world by 2030 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015. Infinity Mind Foundation is working with various partners to achieve the goal.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. One of the key impacts of illicit drug use on society is the negative health consequences experienced by its members. Drug use also puts a heavy financial burden on individuals, families and society.

The evolution of the complex global illicit drug problem is clearly driven by a range of factors. Sociodemographic trends are influential such as the population’s gender, age and the rate of urbanization.

Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit substance in the African Region. The highest prevalence and increase in use is being reported in West and Central Africa with rates between 5.2% and 13.5%.

Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) such as “ecstasy” and methamphetamine now rank as Africa’s second most widely abused drug type. Other substances that were used by children and youth surveyed in Sierra Leone, included benzodiazepines such as diazepam, chlorpromazine and different inhalants, while 3.7% were injecting drugs.

Injecting drugs carries a high risk of infection with bloodborne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes is an important mode of transmission for those viruses.

Substance Abuse among youths in Africa city, as no unemployment rockets up and high school drop outs.

We know what can and needs to be done to help reduce the burden of psychoactive substance use.

  • The harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year.
  • On average every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year.
  • Less than half the population (38.3%) actually drinks alcohol, this means that those who do drink consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually.
  • At least 15.3 million persons have drug use disorders.
  • Injecting drug use reported in 148 countries, of which 120 report HIV infection among this population.

Recent estimates are that in 2008, 155 to 250 million people, or 3.5% to 5.7% of the world’s population aged 15-64, used other psychoactive substances, such as cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, and non-prescribed psychoactive prescription medication. Globally, cannabis is the most commonly used (129-190 million people), followed by amphetamine type stimulants, then cocaine and opioids.

The use of psychoactive substances causes significant health and social problems for the people who use them, and also for others in their families and communities. WHO estimated that 0.7% of the global burden of disease in 2004 was due to cocaine and opioid use, with the social cost of illicit substance use being in the region of 2% of GDP in those countries which have measured it.

Maternal mental health

Worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. In developing countries this is even higher, i.e. 15.6% during pregnancy and 19.8% after child birth. In severe cases mothers’ suffering might be so severe that they may even commit suicide. In addition, the affected mothers cannot function properly. As a result, the children’s growth and development may be negatively affected as well. Maternal mental disorders are treatable. Effective interventions can be delivered even by well-trained non-specialist health providers.

A recent meta-analysis showed that about 20 % of mothers in developing countries experience clinical depression after childbirth. This is much higher than the previous figures on prevalence coming mostly from high income countries. Suicide is an important cause of death among pregnant and post- partum women. Psychosis is much less common but may also lead to suicide and in some cases even harming the newborn. Depression causes enormous suffering and disability and reduced response to child’s need. Evidence indicates that treating the depression of mothers leads to improved growth and development of the newborn and reduces the likelihood of diarrhoea and malnutrition among them.

Who is at risk of these disorders?

Virtually all women can develop mental disorders during pregnancy and in the first year after delivery, but poverty, migration, extreme stress, exposure to violence (domestic, sexual and gender-based), emergency and conflict situations, natural disasters, and low social support generally increase risks for specific disorders.

Effects of maternal mental disorders after birth on the mother and the infant

After the birth, the mother with depression suffers a lot and may fail to adequately eat, bathe or care for herself in other ways. This may increase the risks of ill health. The risk of suicide is also a consideration, and in psychotic illnesses, the risk of infanticide, though rare, must be taken into consideration.

Very young infants can be affected by and are highly sensitive to the environment and the quality of care, and are likely to be affected by mothers with mental disorders as well. Prolonged or severe mental illness hampers the mother-infant attachment, breastfeeding and infant care.

What to do?

Maternal mental health can be integrated into general health care including women’s health, maternal and child health care, reproductive health care and other relevant services.