The World Health Organization (WHO) first began observing World Mental Health Day in 1992. With mental health challenges facing one fourth of people worldwide, WHO decided to found this holiday to raise awareness around mental health, educate the public, and reduce social stigma. Over 150 countries, including the US, observe World Mental Health Day. For the past five years, WHO has also focused the day on a specific mental health concern which they believe needs more public awareness.
In 2018, WHO and the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) named the theme for World Mental Health Day as Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. Their aim with this year’s theme is to explore the mental health difficulties youth and young adults face in an increasingly connected online world. Goals include growing awareness of the increase in young people being diagnosed with depression and substance abuse disorders, due to pressures like cyberbullying and cyber crime. With half of mental health conditions beginning by age 14, it’s important to provide support to youth. You can read WFMH’s full document on this topic at https://wfmh.global/wp-content/uploads/WMHD_REPORT_19_9_2018_FINAL.pdf.
Whether you’re a practicing clinician or still in school, you can you do your part in celebrating World Mental Health Day. Here are some action steps you can take.
Educate. Clinicians are one of the first lines of defense for clients having mental health difficulties. Let your school or colleagues know about World Mental Health Day, and suggests observing the day together. Direct them to the material’s about WHO’s mental health theme for the year. You can also spread the word to other key people in your life, such as family and friends, about World Mental Health Day.
Donate and participate. Setting up a small, regular donation to a reputable mental health organization, even it’s it’s only $5 a month, will help advance mental health treatments and awareness. If you’re unable to donate, consider looking to see if there are any mental health walks or other grassroots efforts in your area in which you can participate.
Refer. Many of our clients need mental health support every day of the year. If you’re uncertain where to get them support, one of the best places to start is the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a mental health education and advocacy group with statewide and local chapters all around the US. Along with raising awareness through activities that increase public awareness, they provide free psychoeducational and treatment programs, as well as local referrals.
Take care of yourself. Clinicians can only nourish their clients’ mental health if their own mental health is stable. Make sure you take care of your own physical and mental needs on a daily basis. If you’ve realized you need to improve your own self-care, identify 1-2 good mental health habits you can commit to doing regularly. Practices could include writing in a journal, committing to an exercise routine, and obtaining your own therapy if needed.
This World Mental Health Day, let’s step up our mental health support and work to help people around the country feel happy and well!