World Mental Health Day (World Federation for Mental Health)

20 - Sep - 2021

World Mental Health Day takes place on October 10th and its aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world by bringing together efforts in support of mental health. On the day, organisations and individuals who are in charge of working on mental health issues, have an opportunity to come together and discuss their work and what needs to be done in order to improve mental health care worldwide and make it easily accessible for everyone.

The WFMH responds to mental health issues by working on the mission with its members in different countries, as well as conducting research at collaborating centres and universities, public education programs (such as World Mental Health Day), consultation to the United Nations (UN) and its specialised agencies.

In 2021, the World Federation for Mental Health President Dr Ingrid Daniels has announced the theme for World Mental Health Day which is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.

World Mental Health Day 2020 highlighted inequalities due to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and the lack of respect for human rights in many countries, including for people living with mental health conditions. It was concluded that such inequalities have had a negative impact on people’s mental health. 

One of the main concerns in working against mental health issues is the fact that many people with a mental illness do not receive the treatment that they are entitled to. This is not only due to the lack of health support available but also the fact that those who struggle with mental health illnesses are often exposed to the stigma and discrimination related to their mental health problems. This ultimately leads people to hide their problems, being unlikely to open up and seek help.

Research gathered by the WFMH shows the evidence that there is a lack in the quality of care provided to people with a mental health problem. The research also indicates that the stigma and discrimination related to mental health issues not only affects the physical and mental health of those who struggle, but it also affects their career, job prospects and educational opportunities. There is also a strong link between those affected by a mental health illness and a direct negative influence on their families and loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven the effects of inequality on health outcomes.  The pandemic has and will continue to affect people, of all ages, in many ways: through personal illness, death of friends and family, bringing bereavement to surviving family members, through the economic impact, with job losses and continued job insecurity, lockdown and physical distancing which could lead to social isolation.

People who experience physical illness also often experience psychological distress and mental health difficulties. An example of this are people with visual impairment. Over 2.2 billion people have visual impairment worldwide and the majority of those people also experience anxiety and/or depression. This is worsened for visually impaired people who experience adverse social and economic circumstances.

The 2021 World Mental Health Day campaign ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’ aims to support civil societies to play an active role in handling inequality in their local areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to another global crisis that is resulting in widening health, economic and social inequalities. The campaign provides an opportunity to ‘’come together and act together to highlight how inequality can be addressed to ensure people are able to enjoy good mental health.’’

While World Mental Health Day only happens once a year, it is important to keep the encouraged practices on regular basis, especially in the current circumstances. Working remotely can leave the employees feeling more lonely and helpless than before. This is why it’s crucial to support the local communities.

Suicide occurs throughout the world, affecting individuals of all nations, cultures, religions, genders and social classes. In 2021, suicide rate in the United Kingdom is 7.9 suicides per 100,000 people. Suicides are more common among men in the UK with 11.8 suicides per 100,000 men, versus 4 suicides per 100,000 women. Inherent factors, such as disorders of the mind can heighten someone's propensity for experiencing depression. COVID-19 pandemic also has increased the risk of suicide.

Counsellors and psychotherapists have experience and training in working with suicide, understanding how suicidal thoughts occur and can help in learning new coping mechanisms to break the cycle. These methods can help in being able to see beyond suicidal thoughts and seek out alternative options to the issues faced.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 999 or visit your local Hospital Accident & Emergency.

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