Every year October 10th is observed as World Mental Health Day to raise awareness and support on mental health issues afflicting our world. On this day The World Federation for Mental Health supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to create awareness, provide education, and rid the social stigma associated with mental health. The World Federation for Mental Health, established in 1992 today has members in over 150 countries. The Ministries of health, civil society organizations, and NGOs in each of the member countries across the globe join hands together to promote the message far and wide. With the present global coronavirus affecting people in 188 countries, OCTOBER 10, 2020, MENTAL HEALTH DAY needs more attention than ever before.
The Beginning of World Mental Health Day
It was the brainwave of Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter at The World Federation for Mental Health who first introduced the World Health Day on October 10, 1992. In 1994, their first theme was “Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World.” The theme suggestion by Secretary General Eugene Brody has continued to date.
While in 2019 the theme was ‘Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention’, the 2020 theme for Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health for All‘.
The importance of Mental Health Day
According to excerpts from a message by Dr. Ingrid Daniels, President of the World Federation for Mental Health, “The world is experiencing the unprecedented impact of the current global health emergency due to COVID-19 that has also impacted on the mental health of millions of people. We know that the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions”.
As per Dr Daniels, mental health is a human right and should be easily accessible to 450 million suffering from mental disorders. With the World Economic Forum estimating mental health disorders to cost the global economy up to USD 16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 we are faced with an international mental health crisis that calls for psychosocial support and mental health interventions in 2020.
Further Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization stated, “The world is accepting the concept of universal health coverage. Mental health must be an integral part of UHC. Nobody should be denied access to mental health care because she or he is poor or lives in a remote place.”
Just 2% allocated for mental health in health budgets
On World Mental Health Day October 10, 2020, with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on citizens WHO, together with partner organizations, United for Global Mental Health, and the World Federation for Mental Health, are addressing communities around the world and especially the governments to increase investment allocation for mental health.
This year the World Mental Health Day campaign will offer online opportunities on topics like:
- How to maintain good mental health,
- How to assist friends and family who are suffering from mental health,
- How to introduce employee wellness programmes in an organization,
- How as a government to commit to establishing or scaling-up mental health services, and
- How as a journalist to spread the message to make mental health care more reachable.
While until now countries were spending on an average only about 2% of their health budgets on mental health, 2020 maybe a game changer to recognize the gargantuan problem and increase its budget allocation.
Key events for World Mental Health Day 2020
Whether you can participate or not in the online events two most easy ways to show your support is by wearing a green ribbon that is the international symbol for mental health awareness and to share a digital sticker through your social media accounts.
This year there are three major events hosted by:-
United for Global Mental Health
On October 9, 2020 people from around the world can join the virtual 24-hour march for mental health. This livestream from 19 countries called ‘Speak Your Mind campaign’ intends to improve basic awareness on mental health issues, break down the stigma associated with mental health, and bring about government policy change.
For the first time in history of WHO the Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
will host a massive global online advocacy event on mental health. World-renowned musicians, sportsmen, and other prominent personalities will openly discuss their experiences and how they have dealt with conditions of depression and anxiety. During this Event, a Special Prize for a mental health film, a newly-created category of WHO’s inaugural Health for All Film Festival, will be awarded.
World Federation for Mental Health
On September 1, 2020, the Federation’s President launched “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access”. The education and awareness raising program include activities through online youth forums and an art exhibition. This program was inaugurated by HRH Princess Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah of Malaysia.
In 2020, let us be vigilant for any signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour from family members or friends. If you notice any change in behaviour like social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide, please SHOW EMPATHY to the person, LISTEN, GIVE HOPE and reach out for to a GP or mental health professional immediately.
We are all in this together. Let’s fight mental health depression and suicides together.