By Lesira Rampa

Mental illness continues to rear its ugly head as the offspring of the Mountain Kingdom suffer its wrath. Unfortunately, preventative measures for suicide and depression have proven to be insufficient, as Basotho continue to take their own lives or silently endure immense suffering. One of the most crucial aspects to consider is our collective approach to this complex issue. Suicide and depression often stem from various factors, including untreated and manageable mental health disorders. Consequently, effectively addressing the mental health problems faced by Lesotho may prove difficult. However, it is vital to emphasize that suicide is preventable with the implementation of appropriate strategies.

The collective response to these challenges should focus on how not to sensationalize suicide and combating the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Additionally, we must be cautious when discussing suicide cases to ensure our conversations are not detrimental. It has been observed that an increasing number of individuals disclose their suicidal thoughts on social media – tempting us to engage in discussions concerning such matters. To mitigate harm, it is imperative to educate society through national and local campaigns regarding appropriate approaches when responding to these posts. We should avoid making comments that might reinforce a perceived sense of hopelessness for someone contemplating suicide or suggest that suicide is a viable solution to their pain. On the other hand, it is equally important to refrain from labeling them as weak. Instead, we should strive to avoid dehumanizing comments that could worsen their depression and anxiety disorders.

Unfortunately, there are numerous challenges in accessing mental health treatment in Lesotho, as evident from the alarming suicide statistics. Despite facing stigma, we encounter several problems, including a shortage of mental health care services and limited financial resources to afford expensive treatments, which are only accessible to those with financial stability. Consequently, it is crucial to consider suicide prevention in Lesotho as a public and social health objective, prioritizing it over the traditional approach confined to the mental health sector. This brings us to the fact that the government should play a pivotal role in these issues. The Government of Lesotho has the power to make a sustainable effect regarding the continuous battle against suicide and depression while meeting those without the financial muscle halfway. The government must realize the intensity of these issues and then take necessary steps to prioritize mental health. The government must allocate resources towards a diverse range of initiatives about mental health. These initiatives should include provisions for counseling services, support groups, and extensive campaigns aimed at increasing awareness at both community and national levels.

Moreover, to successfully combat suicide and depression, it is important to note that no individual should have to carry the weight of mental illness alone. We must therefore give prominence to the promotion of mental health awareness as much as possible. Utilizing the collective efforts of educational institutions and civic organizations. Media platforms can facilitate the widespread circulation of vital information regarding the underlying causes, as well as the available treatment options. Being equipped with such valuable knowledge, individuals are empowered to identify distress signals, making room for an opportune intervention and the provision of much-needed support.

The question then arises as to what happens when support is insufficient, as mentioned as an impediment in Lesotho. Additionally, not many of the mental health awareness campaigns reach those in dire need. Many individuals still pretend and believe that their mental issues are theirs alone to handle. While it’s essential to educate people that there is no shame in expressing their internal problems to trustworthy individuals, a holistic approach to relieving depression and limiting suicidal thoughts involves connecting with the natural surroundings. It has been proven that tuning one’s senses to nature’s sounds and smells is calming and healing. Sun gazing, observing birds and vegetation, and reducing screen time can work wonders.

When depression lingers, usually the desire to get active diminishes. Forcing oneself to engage in gardening, running and even fun activities like listening and dancing to upbeat songs can help improve vitality. It is also important to educate individuals young and old, that allowing oneself ample time to achieve desired milestones in life is entirely acceptable and should be embraced. – barring in mind that “Patience is not only a virtue but a necessity when it comes to personal success, each person walks their unique path and success takes its course for everyone”.

Another battle is with social media, which often leads to comparisons and unrealistic expectations causing a decline in self-worth. Individuals should be mindful of who they follow on social media to unfollow accounts that instill feelings of inadequacy and negative emotions and opt for those that promote self-acceptance and positivity. Mindlessly scrolling through endless feeds can be damaging, so it is helpful to take some time off social media to nurture personal growth and prioritize genuine connections in the real world.

As Basotho, we can positively impact society’s well-being. By placing mental health as a top priority and supporting one another, we can surely decrease the prevalence of suicide and depression in our communities. It is crucial to remember that no one should have to face mental illness alone. However, in addition to seeking support from our community, we can also find comfort in nature, exercise, and fun hobbies. Let’s come together, show empathy, and create a brighter future for all in Lesotho. With unity, we can conquer mental illness and foster resilience.