World Mental Health Day is on October 10 and as our understanding of mental health grows, we grow along with it. Mental health has come a long way since the early nineties when the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) officially established the day. Our self-awareness and sensitivity towards it have changed things for the better. Our language surrounding mental health has improved as words like “crazy” and “lunatic” are used less flippantly and we come to better understand that they can be unintentionally hurtful and stigmatizing. While we’ve learned a lot, there’s still so much more we can do to evolve as a society.
History of World Mental Health Day
In 1992, the World Federation of Mental Health led by the deputy secretary-general at the time, Richard Hunter, created World Mental Health Day. They didn’t have a precise objective other than to advocate for mental health as a whole. To say the least, it was an uphill climb to change a plethora of bad and dangerous habits that were making a difficult situation worse for people.
The world had a host of mental health issues that weren’t properly being treated. There were struggles to gain public funding for treatment in France, inhumane treatment in New Zealand, and an overall ignorance in regards to what mental health actually is. The WFMH knew that they needed to act on a global scale to solve a global crisis.
For the first three years, there was a two-hour telecast broadcast across the globe through the U.S. information agency satellite. The studio was located in Tallahassee, Florida and it became a useful way to get their message of advocacy out to the world. They had participation from Chile, England, Australia, and Zambia, while Geneva, Atlanta, and Mexico City pre-taped segments for the broadcast.
The first World Mental Health Day theme was ‘Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World’ in 1994. 27 countries sent feedback reports after the campaign and there were national campaigns in Australia and England. Continuing this momentum, WFMH board members across the globe arranged events in accordance with the day and its growing popularity among government departments, organizations, and civilians alike.
Starting in 1995 and continuing on, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) arranged the translation of the planning kit material into Spanish, French, Russian, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic. As the years passed, more countries got involved and, consequently, so did civilians as the perception of mental health became more synonymous with human rights.
The themes for World Mental Health Day expanded along with the times. Women, children, health, work, trauma, suicide, and so much more became a part of the conversation, and today, the average citizen is more knowledgeable in regards to mental health.
World Mental Health Day timeline
World Mental health Day is observed for the first time on October 10, 1992.
The first theme is created — 'Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World.'
An increase in international events take place that give rise to more conferences about the subject and community celebrations.
As more themes are added, increased awareness of multiple aspects of mental health becomes more common on a global level.
World Mental Health Day FAQs
How do I comfort someone with a mental illness?
Many people want to help, but don’t know how to. Keep it casual and ask to take someone who might be suffering out to lunch and simply let them know that you’re there for them.
What causes mental illness?
Multiple factors can contribute to mental health issues relating to your biology and external factors: psychological trauma, the early loss of a parent, and neglect are a few examples.
How do I know if I have mental health issues?
It’s important to consult a mental health professional if you have serious concerns. Some signs to look out for are changes in sleep or appetite, rapid or dramatic mood changes, withdrawal, a decline in functioning, and having problems thinking straight.
How to Observe World Mental Health Day
Do group therapy in the workplace
Register for a group therapy workshop at your place of work. This can allow you and your coworkers to express themselves in a safe environment. We tend to hold onto the idea that pushing through and carrying on is the best way, but issues can arise unexpectedly if they aren't properly dealt with.
There are many changes you can make to your life that can continue beyond World Mental Health Day. Developing a regular sleep routine, adjusting your diet to healthier options, taking lunch breaks, and going on long walks are just some of the options. The point of self-care is to understand your specific needs. Find time to ask yourself what you want and go for it.
Follow the theme
Each year, there’s a new theme and even if it doesn’t directly involve your struggles, you can still learn from it. Spend some time and research the subject. Awareness extends beyond yourself and it could provide you with the proper tools to better understand others.
5 Surprising Facts About Mental Health
It's believed in certain cultures that mental health problems are caused by spirit possession.
Globally, one in four people will need mental health care in their lives.
More than 43 million Americans battle with mental health.
Depression among youth has risen from 5.9% to 8.2% since 2012.
Most Americans lack access to proper healthcare treatment.
Why World Mental Health Day is Important
Identify the problem
The idea of the mind is an abstract concept and this day allows us to think about our thoughts. We’re evolving beyond outdated perceptions and releasing the stigma of mental health so that we can properly diagnose it and take care of ourselves. With the burden and fear removed from mental health issues, the battle becomes considerably easier.
Share your pain
This day reminds you that whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone. Too often we think that we’re the only ones facing a hard time. It’s uplifting to know that other people have gone through it and made it out to the other end. It reminds you that you can overcome your own pain.
As our understanding of mental health grows, so does our ability to seek proper treatment. With the right therapist and necessary medication, you can operate on a more efficient level. The more accepting we are and the more funding that’s put into research and mental healthcare, the greater the global impact.
World Mental Health Day dates