Happy 29th World Mental Health Day! Since 1992, the World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10th October every year. Today is a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.
According to the website of the World Health Organisation, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected. And services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders have been significantly disrupted.
Yet there is cause for optimism. During the World Health Assembly in May 2021, governments from around the world recognized the need to scale up quality mental health services at all levels. And some countries have found new ways of providing mental health care to their populations.
During this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign, the WHO will showcase the efforts made in some of these countries and encourage you to highlight positive stories as part of your own activities, as an inspiration to others.
It will also provide new materials, in easy-to-read formats, of how to take care of your own mental health and provide support to others too.
The history of the Day
In 1992, the World Federation of Mental Health led by the deputy secretary-general at the time, Richard Hunter, created World Mental Health Day. Their objective was to advocate for mental health as a whole. To say the least, it was an uphill climb to change a plethora of bad and dangerous habits that were making a difficult situation worse for people.
In 1994, the first World Mental Health Day theme was ‘Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World‘. 27 countries sent feedback reports after the campaign and there were national campaigns in Australia and England. Continuing this momentum, WFMH board members across the globe arranged events in accordance with the day and its growing popularity among government departments, organizations, and civilians alike.
Starting in 1995 and continuing on, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) arranged the translation of the planning kit material into Spanish, French, Russian, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic. As the years passed, more countries got involved and, consequently, so did civilians as the perception of mental health became more synonymous with human rights.
The themes for World Mental Health Day expanded along with the times. Women, children, health, work, trauma, suicide, and so much more became a part of the conversation, and today, the average citizen is more knowledgeable in regards to mental health.