First Lady Fazna Ahmed underscored on Sunday the critical role of mental health in overall wellbeing and emphasised that mental health is not a secondary concern but an integral part of personal health. She made these remarks in her keynote address at the 'Oevaru Mental Health Conference' inaugural session held at Villa Nautica.

The First Lady asserted that acknowledging mental health fosters open discussions, reduces stigma, and encourages society to demand that policymakers, health practitioners, and individuals prioritise mental health. She noted that the conference's theme, 'Changing Currents: Forming Connections,' is particularly relevant in our ever-changing world. She added that while we cannot always control what happens, we can shape the way we respond. She stated that the strength of our response depends on political will, data availability, capacity, and collaboration.

First Lady Fazna highlighted the current administration's efforts to promote mental health and provide mental health care services. She noted that the political will to prioritise mental health in the Maldives has led to the establishment of the National Centre for Mental Health. This has resulted in the expansion of in-patient psychiatry services, increased Aasandha coverage for therapeutic services, promotion of physical fitness and sports as part of a healthy lifestyle, increased mental health GAP training, provision of higher education scholarships in the field of mental health, and expansion of mental health services beyond the Greater Malé Area.

However, she acknowledged that current data on mental health in the Maldives is limited and outdated. She noted that to prevent and support mental health issues effectively, we need comprehensive data to identify when and where interventions are most effective.

The First Lady also stressed the need to enhance the country's capacity for mental health support through early detection, prevention, and decentralised access to services. She advocated for greater collaboration within society and emphasised that learning from each other is crucial to overcoming resource limitations and avoiding duplication.

The 'Oevaru Mental Health Conference,' a two-day event initiated by the National Centre for Mental Health, aims to discuss ways to address these issues.