World Mental Health Day, a programme of the World Federation for Mental Health, was observed for the first time on 10 October 1992. Annually, World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October, with an overarching aim to raise awareness globally of mental health matters in order to organise and increase efforts that support initiatives around mental health. World Mental Health Day also provides a chance for numerous stakeholders in the field to discuss their efforts in order to achieve the goal of making mental health care a reality for all citizens globally. The most recent World Mental Health Days have been as follows:
- World Mental Health Day 2019 – Focus on Suicide Prevention
- World Mental Health Day 2018 – Young People and Mental health in a Changing World
- World Mental Health Day 2017 – Mental Health in the Workplace
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented reality to the planet, resulting in catastrophic outcomes, both from a health perspective and economically – perhaps never before have we been witness to such a link, and a Gordian knot of various factors influencing health outcomes, quality of life, and indeed basic human rights. The recent months have brought about significant challenges to individuals (albeit to varying degrees related to various psychosocial and structural injustices), and the economic consequences are already being felt and will continue to be felt for the foreseeable future.
As noted by the President of the World Federation for Mental Health, Dr Ingrid Daniels, “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”. Consequently, as similarly reported by the ninth United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, “mental health is at the core of our humanity… mental health services are an essential part of all government responses to COVID-19”. It is therefore obvious, that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will continue to increase in the times ahead.
As noted by the WHO, this is the very reason why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health programmes at both the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, and is now more vital than it has ever been. This year, for the first time ever, the WHO will host a global online advocacy event on mental health. At this event – the Big Event for Mental Health – world leaders, mental health experts and celebrity guests will join WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to tell the world what we can all do to improve our mental health and how we can help make sure that quality mental health care is available to everyone who needs it” (more details may be viewed here). This year, a campaign is also underway, “co-designed by the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, builds on the concept that, while mental health has been receiving increasing global attention in recent years, the field has not received commensurate investment” (full details may be viewed here). This is why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health.
In the words of the President of World Federation for Mental Health, “mental health is a human right – it’s time that mental health is available for all. Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage and is urgently required as the world grapples with the current health emergency. We therefore need to make mental health a reality for all – for everyone, everywhere.”
Dr Karl Swain