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Celebrate World Mental Health Day By Not Dismissing Mental Health

Oct 09, 2017

It’s always time to talk about mental health and tomorrow, October 10, 2017,  is World Mental Health Day it’s important to understand why World Mental Health Day matters.

In effect since 1992, it’s an international day dedicated to raising awareness on mental health education. Initially organized by the World Federation for Mental Health, (an international, non-government organization [NGO] with over 150 countries including India, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom), it’s an opportunity to come together on a global scale and discuss mental health.

It’s with an understanding on the sensitivity around mental health and a recognition on how we all have a responsibility to reduce this prevalent, social concern that we use our voice to join the discussion and help breakdown the stigma around mental illness.

 

World Mental Health Day Matters
World Mental Health Day Matters: Why it’s important to fight the ongoing cultural stigma of mental health issues. Photo Credit: www.lilpickmeupdotcom.files

 

Why is the discussion so important?

Though awareness is certainly increasing, there’s still a stigma around mental illness. In Canada for example, by the time people have reached 40 years of age, 1 out of 2 will have had or experienced a mental illness. From an economic standpoint, the financial cost of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion each year. The statistics can be shocking and research demonstrates it’s not a concern limited to Canada but a huge challenge on a global scale that we must join together to overcome.

According to the not-for-profit international organization Suicide.org every 40 seconds (on average), one person from around the world dies from suicide. In the past 45 years, there’s been an increase of 60 per cent in reported deaths from suicide and the yearly average is over 1 million. Data from 100 countries demonstrates that Canada, the United States and India fall within the first 50 countries with the highest suicide rates (the United Kingdom is ranked at 62, not too far behind). This makes it further evident that mental health is an international, social concern that cannot be ignored.

World Mental Health Day Matters
 World Mental Health Day Matters: There’s many ways to get involved!  Photo Credit: resourcesforsinglemoms.com

What are some countries doing to help?

Recognizing the responsibility to take action, several countries are taking educational actions to spread awareness, increase the amount and quality of health services available.

India for example, is hosting the World Congress of Mental Health in November 2017. Described by their site as the largest, global debate on mental health, it’s an excellent opportunity for countries to come together to discuss policies and programs.

The United Kingdom has been at the forefront in bringing awareness to mental health with many countries following its example. In 2007, the U.K. introduced an amended Mental Health Act, an element which included a Mental Health Review Tribunal to improve mental health patient safeguards.

In the U.S.A., the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is one of the research funding agencies committed to working with mental health patients, providers, scientists and the public on the latest scientific research for improvement.

Data in Canada shows an increase of 81 per cent in awareness of the general population on mental health matters over a five year period and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lead by example in 2016 when he publicly opened up about his family’s personal struggle with mental illness.

Governments taking a stance to highlight the importance of mental health is important but it’s equally as important that we take action on an individual basis.

What can you do to help?

Talk about it.

Mental health is impacted by depression, anxiety, eating disorders and a wide range of mental illnesses. International numbers show millions are affected which means it’s real and it’s relatable. Through sharing our stories, we can reduce the stigma which may lead to more people who are in need of help, becoming aware they need it and having the courage to ask.

World Mental Health Day Matters
World Mental Health Day Matters: Mental illness comes in many forms. Photo Credit: www.linkedin.com

Research resources.

Lots of credited resources are available to help improve mental health that are completely free of charge. For example, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is an eight-week program designed to help people with a range of difficulties. Available in some hospitals, medical clinics and private centers, it can also be accessed online at no-charge.

Do you have additional health insurance through private or as part of a work benefits program? A lot of benefits packages include employee and family assistant programs where you can seek help not only for yourself but for your immediate family members. Ensure you understand the scope of your benefits and maximize their use.

Set self-care as a priority.

In emergency procedures on an airplane, we’re instructed to put our own breathing masks on before we help others. The same goes for mental health. We often give so much of our time, energy and thoughts to our family and friends that we put our own well-being last. Family values are deeply rooted in the South Asian culture and we aren’t suggesting that needs to be changed but when we must ensure as we prioritize others, we don’t forget to care of ourselves. Ensure you give yourself even a few moments a day to check-in with your thoughts, emotions and body.

World Mental Health Day Matters
World Mental Health Day Matters: Even a little support can go a long way. Photo Credit:wersm.com

Show your support.

Listen to your loved ones, volunteer for an event or organization committed to mental health, tweet, and post on Instagram to show your support. Too shy to join the public conversation yet? Join an anonymous online forum; even support from a complete stranger can help people who are suffering. Be creative and take action; there are countless ways to show your support for mental health.

Main Image Photo Credit: Dyessafb.com

Rachna Sethi

Rachna Sethi

Author

From evening parties to morning prayers, from corporate strategy to chocolate smuggling, Rachna has a thirst for living life with a work/play balance. After years in Management, Rachna packed her bags and moved to Europe for adventure, international work experience and the search for life&rsquo...

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