On Monday it will be World Mental Health Day (WMHD) and, as usual, I am marking it by revisiting the reason I began this blog ten years ago. Whilst I have strayed a long way from my beginnings it is a subject which remains close to my heart, and this annual date deserves to be noted by me, in doing my small bit to raise awareness. WMHD was initiated in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and is given a theme each year. This year’s theme is ‘Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority.’ It may not be the snappiest of slogans, but it is a vitally important message.
Introducing the day, and the toolkit they have developed for it, the Secretary-General of the WFMH, Gabriel Ivbijaro, said :
“In 2021 the UN Secretary-General said that, without determined action, the impact of COVID 19 on mental health may last far longer than the pandemic itself. He urged us to act to redress the glaring inequalities exposed by the pandemic, including the inequality in access to mental health services.
People with lived experience of mental illness, their families and other disadvantaged populations continue to tell us that their mental health well-being is not always in the mind of governments, as well as those who pay for services and society at large.
In high income countries over 75% of people with depression have reported that they do not receive adequate care and in low and middle-income countries over 75% of people with mental health conditions have received no treatment at all.
This year’s theme highlights many issues relevant to mental health and well-being, and the WFMH Secretary-General has been mandated to involve a variety of stakeholders and global citizens to work together to ensure that we have a clear message and an effective campaign to support World Mental Health Day 2022 on 10th October.”
The toolkit can be found here, and gives a number of ways in which the day and its message can be supported. I rather like the list of slogans they offer which can be used in a variety of ways, not least on social media. There are quite a few of them, but here are a few, as a taster:
- Mental Health and Well-Being for All – A Global Priority
- Mental Health Matters
- Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
- Dignity in Mental Health Matters.
- Nothing About Us Without Us
You may have noticed that the image at the head of this post is from the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), who are the main organiser of activities for the day here in the UK. Their page for it is here. If you follow that link you will also find that you can access a whole range of support materials around mental health topics, whether you need that for yourself, for a friend or family member, or just want to learn more about why our mental health is so important to us. It is vital that mental health is supported both on an individual basis, but also by government and international initiatives. One of the booklets the MHF offer is especially relevant for old codgers like me, as it gives advice on looking after our mental health as we get older – and that is happening to us all, every day! Here’s a link to it – you won’t regret checking it out, as it is helpful in a number of ways.
As we slowly recover from the pandemic, access to healthcare services is becoming more difficult to find. There are huge pressures of demand on the services, even more that before 2020, and it is, sadly, inevitable that the focus of these will fall on treatments for physical issues, rather than mental ones. That has always been the case and, if the UK is anything to go by, funding for the provision of healthcare is becoming increasingly stretched. It doesn’t help that our recently appointed prime minister seems hellbent on destroying public services, which are about to be given yet another cut in funding to help pay for her misguided economic policies. In such straitened times, the support of organisations like the MHF is incredibly important for us, and if you weren’t aware of them before now I hope that the links I have provided will show you where you can find their help if you or someone you know could benefit from it.
The MHF haven’t produced any new materials for this year’s WMHD, as far as I can tell, but this one they made earlier this year for Mental Health Awareness Week is just as relevant now as it was several months ago, and will continue to be an important message:
At the beginning of this piece I quoted the WFMH’s message that mental health should be a global priority. I recognise that I am of necessity writing from the perspective of where I live – the UK – but there are organisations across the world providing support in the manner of the MHF: American readers can click on the ‘Stand Up’ image in the right hand column to be taken straight to their equivalent, for example – it takes you away from my page, so do please come back after you’ve visited it! Wherever you are, please take a moment to think about your own mental health, and that of those you love, and consider whether you are doing enough to support yourself or them. I am hoping that Monday will be marked by some supportive media coverage: in previous years, research study results have been published to coincide with the date, so keep your eyes peeled on the tv and in the papers for news of these. Those 75% figures I quoted earlier are frightening, but not really surprising, and I expect there are some detailed research projects currently being undertaken which will have similar results.
Yes, this is a global issue, but we can all do our bit to make things better. Take care.