October 10 is World Mental Health Day.
World Mental Health Day is observed annually. It began in 1992 as an initiative by the World Federation for Mental Health.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness and advocacy for mental health issues.
Increasing education and awareness of mental health issues is the first step in bringing about change.
Informing and education people on mental health helps to break down lingering stigma and shame commonly associated with admitting to having a mental illness. The goal of awareness is developing a community where people are able to speak freely and are able to reach out for help when it is needed.
Another critical aspect of creating awareness is in ensuring awareness results in a push for change.
Services must be readily accessible to those that do ask for help. Mental health services globally are in desperate need of being made more accessible.
The need for change has never been more pressing.
Depression will be the leading illness globally by 2030, if urgent action is not taken towards improving support.
The Theme for 2016
Each year a theme for World Mental Health day is selected. This provides focus and clarity around a particular aspect of what is a multi-faceted and complex issue.
The theme for 2016 is:
Dignity in mental health – psychological and mental first aid for all.
Many people within the community are equipped to provide first aid in emergency situations relating to a physical or medical issue.
However, almost nobody outside of the medical profession would know how to provide first aid for a mental health crisis if they were to come across someone in need of help e.g. someone suffering an acute anxiety attack.
In an ideal world all first aid training should be for physical and mental health – there is no need to continue to separate the mind from the body.
Empowering bystanders to be able to respond and assist in a crisis is one way in which we can begin to breakdown stigma, prevent the crisis situation from becoming worse, and providing comfort until the person is able to access the professional services they require.
Until access to services improve, it could make all the difference for some people. Learn more about the goal to teach basic first aid skills to all.
How Can You Help?
Getting involved in raising awareness doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It can be as simple as organising or attending a Tea and Talk in your area.
Tea and Talk traditionally falls on October 10 but you can choose to host one at a day that is suitable to you or your organisation.
The objective of hosting a Tea and Talk is in raising money towards providing mental health information and services to those that need them. It also provides a starting point for people to begin talking with one another about mental health and breaking down the stigma. Those that have hosted Tea and Talk events have said it worked as the perfect icebreaker.
Many ended up sharing experiences of their own or of loved ones that have experienced mental health issues, demonstrating just how common these issues are.
Tea and Talk
The Mental Health Foundation has published their own information and resources on hosting fundraising activities, including tips on ensuring the day is a success!
The eye opening statistics on mental health globally