The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) was founded in 1948 to promote advancements in mental health awareness and advocacy, prevention of mental health disorders and ensuring best practice in recovery-focused interventions. The first World Mental Health day, held on 10 October 1992, had the theme Mental Health Advocacy. Further themes have covered a range of topics from trauma, ageing, young people and suicide prevention.
In 2021, the WFMH’s theme is ‘Mental Health in an unequal world’. The aim of this theme is to highlight that access to mental health services remains unequal, with between 75-95% of people with mental heath issues in low and middle-income countries unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high income countries is not much better.
The stigma and discrimination experienced by people who suffer from mental ill health not only affects their physical and mental health, stigma also affects their educational opportunities, current and future earning and job prospects, as well as affecting their families and loved ones. This inequality needs to be addressed because it should not be allowed to continue. We all have a role to play to address these disparities and ensure people with lived experience of mental health are fully integrated in all aspects of life.
To coincide with World Mental Health Day, Mental Health UK are partnering with ITN Productions Industry News to produce a programme called ‘Forward Together for Mental Health’ which airs on 10 October. The aim of this programmes is to raise the profile of mental health in the UK, from those severely affected by mental illness, to people whose mental health has worsened during the current coronavirus crisis.
Mental health is indeed a precious commodity – an asset, which is valuable on both a communal and individual basis. The World Health Organisation states “There is no health without mental health”. Mental health relates to the core of what makes us human. As Freud famously said when we have mental health we can “Love, work and play”. Good mental health supports the capability of individuals to display healthy behaviour, which keeps themselves and others safe during a pandemic. It also supports people to perform in key roles within families, communities and societies.
Prioritising our own mental health needs is important too. Taking personal time out to rest, reflect and rejuvenate will increase your sense of wellbeing and build mental health stores to stress inoculate from some of the frustration and losses caused by the threat and disruption of coronavirus. Learning to develop positive mental health habits will increase your capacity to interact, connect, learn and work to create a more emotional balance in your life.
Why not invest in your mental health today? Consider a mindfulness meditation, go for a walk in nature, or even take time to connect with a friend or colleague.