The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes World Mental Health Day on October 10th every year. The day provides an opportunity to bring awareness and encourage support for people experiencing mental health issues around the world.
The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is “Make mental health and well being for all a global priority.”
Also, in 1990, Congress officially established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week. This gives those of us in the mental health community a reminder to re-ignite the public’s awareness of mental illness and reflect on the good work accomplished by many mental health advocates thus far.
Stigma and misunderstanding continue to rule when it comes to how we think and talk about mental illness. This unfortunately complicates perceptions on mental illness, and many individuals do not seek help due to the stigma of mental health as a weakness or something one should be able to manage on their own. The idea of seeking help for one’s mental health still in 2022 is seen as “weak.”
Prior to the pandemic in 2019, statistics show that an estimated one in eight people globally were living with a mental disorder. At the same time, the services, skills and funding available for mental health remain in short supply, and fall far below what is needed, especially in low and middle income countries.
Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened.
As a mental health advocate I envision a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to access the mental health care they need.
For more information about World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week please visit the websites below.