World Mental Health Day this year is on Tuesday, 10 October 2023. World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy, against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, which is a global mental health organisation across 150 countries. On this day, people come together around the world to recognise the importance of mental well-being in our lives and communities. With the challenges and complexities of modern life, let's explore more about the observance of World Mental Health Day and why it's important.
What is the global mental health crisis?
Mental health issues are not confined to one set of people and they impact people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is currently "the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide" with anxiety following closely behind. The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated mental health challenges, with increased stress, isolation, and uncertainty affecting millions of individuals globally.
How does this day raise awareness and reduce stigma?
This day is a platform to raise awareness about mental health issues and reduce stigma. Many people are hesitant to seek help due to fear of judgment or societal misconceptions about mental health. This day encourages open conversations, promotes understanding, and empowers individuals to seek the support they need without shame or discrimination.
Mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness; it encompasses a state of well-being in which individuals can cope with life's challenges, work productively, and contribute to their communities. It is essential to understand that mental health is a continuum. Just as we take care of our physical health through exercise, nutrition, and regular check-ups, we must also take proactive steps to maintain our mental well-being.
How can people seek help if they are struggling?
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, seeking help is a crucial step. Mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, are trained to provide support, counselling, and therapy. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to manage symptoms. The sooner one seeks help, the better the chances of recovery and improved quality of life.
The NHS website says the following:
- If you or someone else is in danger, call 999 or go to A&E now
- If you need help urgently for your mental health, but it's not an emergency, get help from NHS 111 online or call 111
How can we protect young people and caregivers?
Mental health education should start young. Parents, guardians, and caregivers should teach young people about mental health, emotional intelligence, and coping strategies. Educating young people helps them better manage their mental well-being, reduces stigma, and creates a more empathetic and understanding society.
Additionally, often those who provide care – whether to children, the elderly, or people with disabilities – often neglect their own mental health in an effort to support others. On this day, we must also recognise the mental health needs of caregivers and provide them with the resources and assistance they require to cope with their responsibilities.