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Making everyone in the world more aware of the issues that are faced by people struggling with mental health is a great way to offer the beginning of a solution to the problem. The more people know, the more they can do to aid with the prevention or seek out help.

Get on board with World Mental Health Day!

History of World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was established in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. In some countries around the world, it forms just one part of the larger Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Mental health problems, ranging from issues like depression and anxiety disorders to conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, affect millions of people around the world. In fact, according to certain statistics, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem during their lifetime and many more will see friends or family members who are affected.

Yet, even though mental health is so prevalent, it is one of the most neglected forms of health in the world today. Almost one billion people are living with a mental health disorder right now and millions of people die each year from the impact that mental health has had on them. Even so, many people still do not have access to the care that they need to appropriately handle these concerns.

The purpose of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues, increase education on the topic and attempt to eliminate the stigma attached. It is hoped that this, in turn, will encourage sufferers to seek out help and support.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has gotten on board with supporting World Mental Health Day and sees it as an opportunity to have a massive scale-up given to the investment made in the support of mental health. The WHO asserts that countries spend only 2% of their annual healthcare budgets on mental health, and that simply is not enough.

It’s time to push away the stigma, embrace the struggle, and invest in the opportunity for a more stable future when it comes to mental health. World Mental Health Day is a great day to begin!

World Mental Health Day Timeline

3000 BC

Mental health is stigmatized

In Ancient Egypt, and possibly since the beginning of time, people with mental health concerns are believed to be possessed by demons and are treated poorly.[1]

1796

York Retreat Center is established 

Seeking to treat patients as guests not prisoners, the Quakers of Yorkshire, England, begin reform by including dignity and courtesy in their standard of care.[2]

1840-1880

Dorthea Dix works for change 

Aiming to change the negative perceptions of mental illness, Dix spends 40 years advocating and helping hospitals in the US and Canada.[3]

1908

The mental health hygiene movement takes shape. 

Clifford Beers publishes his memoir, A Mind That Found Itself, about the horrible abuse he encountered during his stays in private and public institutions.[4]

2005

US National Suicide Prevention Hotline begins 

With federal funding, this resource supports people with mental health concerns all over the United States, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.[5]

How to Observe World Mental Health Day

Getting informed and staying connected with others are both critical parts of maintaining a healthy life in every way. Consider these ways to

Maintain Good Mental Health

Of course, not every mental illness is preventable, but some of them can be better managed, or even prevented, with the right kind of care and support. Together with family, friends, and community, people are more likely to be healthy when they invest a little bit of time and effort into their own mental health.

Try these ideas for maintaining mental health:

  • Start Talking About Feelings. Although there is a time and a place for this, talking can help the brain to process through feelings and thoughts so that they can be managed a little at a time, which can help to avoid feelings of overwhelm. Choose a trusted friend, or take advantage of a mental health professional or counselor who will act as a good listener.
  • Stay Active and Fit. It’s actually true that a healthy body yields more of a healthy mind. Getting active with sports, exercise and activities can help to promote self-esteem, healthy sleep patterns, better concentration and just generally improve overall health.
  • Stay Connected. Those who live their lives in the community are at less risk of becoming isolated and slipping into poor mental health. Keeping the lines of communication open with friends and family can help to strengthen bonds and provide protection against mental health struggles. And if you do have a struggle? Instead of being isolated, you’ll be connected with others who can provide support.

Participate in a World Mental Health Day Event

Various events will be hosted in-person and online that help to educate and provide support around the topic of mental health. These might range from seminars and symposiums to marches or other events. In 2020, The WHO featured a 24-hour March for Mental Health which included a 24-hour Livestream with participants in at least 19 different countries through the Speak Your Mind campaign. Other partners included the Human Rights Watch and Alzheimer’s Disease International. Get in touch with any of these organizations or others that might be hosting events related to World Mental Health Day this year and in the coming years.

Join a World Mental Health Day Fundraiser

A number of fundraising events take place globally, so why not check if there is an event happening near you and show your support for this serious issue? Do a local search to find out which organizations or charities are offering support in the community. Or, reach further afield and get connected with national or international organizations that provide support for those with mental health concerns, as well as promoting prevention.

These charities are known for their effectiveness in the realm of mental health:

  • StrongMinds. Particularly geared toward the support of women in Africa, this charity was founded in 2013 with the intention of helping to treat depression through a low-cost method of group interpersonal psychotherapy.
  • International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). One of the most difficult risks related to untreated mental health issues is the possibility of suicide. IASP is dedicated to preventing suicide while providing a forum for the conversation between medical workers, academics, suicide survivors, crisis workers, mental health professionals and volunteers.
  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. One of the best ways to help prevent mental health issues is by better understanding the ways that the brain functions. This US-based organization provides research grants that fund scientific research in an effort to find cures for mental health concerns, such as addiction, depression or bipolar disorder.

World Mental Health Day FAQs

Why is mental health important?

Mental health impacts how people think, feel and act. It affects every part of life including how they cope with stress, make choices and manage relationships.[1]

How does social media affect mental health?

Too much social media can negatively affect mental health by creating FOMO (fear of missing out), lower mood, less satisfaction with life, and sometimes even a social media addiction.[2]

How to improve mental health? 

Mental health can be improved by connecting with others, developing coping skills, learning meditation, practicing relaxation techniques and seeing a counselor.[3]

Does mental health affect physical health?

Yes. Research has shown that people who struggle with mental health are more likely to have preventable physical health issues, such as heart disease or diabetes.[4]

Can mental health be genetic?

Some research shows that certain mental health concerns can be traced to genetic similarities at a biological level, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADD and major depression.[5]

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