Mental Health is a topic that has received much more traction as the years have passed. And on October 10th every year, the world acknowledges this topic, using this day as a form of international recognition of mental health issues, encouraging people to educate themselves on the topic and advocating against the social stigmas that tend to fall on those with mental health issues.
World Mental Health day was first celebrated on October 10th, 1992, having been established by the World Federation of Mental Health, led by Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter. In its early years, World Mental Health Day was just a day of awareness, using various forms of engagement and relaying information in regards to this topic. However, as the years progressed, the World Federation of Mental Health developed specific areas surrounding the universal topic, dedicating each year to a specific theme that both covered education of mental health issues and advocacy.
The first theme for World Mental Health Day was “Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World” in 1994, setting off the standard of not just discussing mental health, but taking actionable steps to tackle it and help people who deal with mental health issues. And from 1995, the global impact this day had continued to increase, with — by this time — over 27 countries holding events and conferences surrounding the subject and endless communities holding celebrations in honor of those going through and recovering from mental health issues.
Mental health issues can affect a person’s emotional and psychological well-being, in addition to their behaviors. Though signs and symptoms of mental illnesses can vary depending on the person, potential disorder, personal circumstances and a number of other factors, as presented by the Mayo Clinic, some examples of factors to look out for include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Problems with alcohol and/or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility and/or violence
- Suicidal thinking
Also, some mental health issue systems can be physical, such as stomach or back pain, headaches and other aches and pains that occur with no explanation.
As presented by National Today, they list 5 surprising facts about mental health issues:
- Many cultures believe that mental health problems are caused by spirit possession.
- Globally, one in four people will need some sort of mental health care at some point in their lives.
- Over 43 million Americans battle with mental health
- Since 2012, depression amongst youth has gone from 5.9% to 8.2%.
- Most Americans lack access to proper healthcare treatment.
This year on October 10th, the theme is “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality”, highlighting the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on individuals’ mental health. This year, here are some ways we can observe World Mental Health Day, on October 10th and beyond:
- Get into group therapy and allow yourself and others to freely express themselves in a safe environment. Many are suffering in silence and in solitude — especially due to the pandemic — so promoting those spaces is a good service to all.
- Practice self-care and don’t hesitate to do what is best for you. And it doesn’t have to be huge changes! Develop a sleep routine, start eating healthier, take mini-breaks throughout the day or even take a walk to get some fresh air. Either way, find the time to do the things that you want and make you feel good.
- Follow and Share this year’s theme. Though you may not have been affected in the same way others have, there is so much we can all learn from each other. Taking the time to do research and promote awareness can provide you and others with the tools and resources to better understand each other and better learn how to help each other.