Mental disorders: a raging fire tearing apart the Moroccan society


(Clément Falize, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Wissal Idrissi, an 18 years old second-year medical student from Fez, Morocco. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

40 seconds is the time needed by suicide to take one human-being from our world, to leave us without millions of loving hearts, loyal citizens, pure souls…each year.

In Morocco, suicide incidence was 2,7% in 2010 and increased to 5,2% in 2015, according to the 5th edition of the strategic dashboard. These statistics are alarming enough to make us shed the light on mental health, an undividable part of medicine and yet neglected in my country.

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as: “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his(her) own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her(his) community.”  This means that it is a considerable part of our wellness and should not be underrated.

Mental health is certainly shaped by biological factors and genesis, but psychological features are the first ones to be remembered, and are mainly due to socio-economic or cultural aspects.

Studies showed that mental health can be affected by unstable relationships (with family, friends, colleagues or boss at work), drugs and alcohol, traumatic experiences, violence scenes in the surrounding environment and all sources of stress. All these factors can also influence the perception of life, behavior and efficiency towards the community.

When someone complains about a shortness of breath or headaches, we urge them to go see a doctor but when the discomfort is related to a psychological feeling, things are seen differently; the concerned person is ashamed and afraid to talk about his illness, and even if not, his environment usually trivializes the situation acting in an inconvenient way.

Locally, suicide is connected to religion, being an unforgivable and unquestionable sin, so people don’t bother themselves to find the right reason that make people take their own lives. Moreover, mental disorders are usually explained strangely (“djinn” possession, superstitious and mythical beliefs…). STIGMA is covering mental disorders.

The fact that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are mostly observed among teenagers is an evident proof that suicide has a deeply-rooted connection with education: lack of dialogue, facing hard times alone, bad influence at school or divorced parents can generate awful disasters.

Based on the last research (2018), the statistics showed that 40% of Moroccans suffer from mental disorders and 26% from depression. Unbelievable but true.

Why should we always wait for the disaster to consider the risks and start acting?

The involvement of each and every one of us is highly required in order to tackle this problem. First of all, we should listen to others thoroughly, show them empathy and make them feel that we do care about their wellness, encourage them to practice sports and enjoy their hobbies and then if we can’t help them we can always encourage them to seek professional help.

Yet, what’s heavily imperative is raising awareness so that everyone would be able to define mental health and understand why some people see suicide as the only solution to their life’s problems.

Media and the government play an important role in terms of improving access to mental health services through devoting a budget for mental health departments in public hospitals, sensibilizing campaigns, and collaborating plans with health professionals.

About the author

Wissal Idrissi is an 18 years old second-year medical student from Fez, Morocco. In 2018,
she joined IFMSA Morocco through her local committee FEMSA, where she held the position of the local publication support division director for this term. Joining her passion for writing to her honest desire to help people, to raise awareness and fight against current matters, discovering this organization was the best thing that could happen to her. Since mental health is still an unmentioned subject in her country, she hopes that writing this article would be an efficient contribution to help consider this issue more seriously.

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