It may seem reprehensible or unknown to many, but there is a World Mental Health Day, scheduled for October 10 every year. While many people wonder about the goal of this day, when reading the figures related to mental health worldwide issued by the World Health Organization and other institutions concerned with this field, we find that there must be a global day that pushes governments, civil society institutions, and workers in this field. The field is to raise awareness of the suffering of billions of people, and try to find solutions to reduce their suffering.
Almost one billion people in the world suffer from mental disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse kills 3 million people annually, while suicide kills one person every 40 seconds, which is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years.
Today, billions of people around the world are affected by the Corona pandemic, which is also exacerbating the damage to human mental health. Depression is one of the main causes of illness and disability among adolescents and adults, with 1 in 5 children and adolescents suffering from a mental disorder. And people with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia often die ten or twenty years earlier than others.
More than 75 percent of people with mental illnesses, in low- and middle-income countries, receive no treatment at all, as a result of the decades-long chronic shortage of mental health promotion, disease prevention and care. Stigma, discrimination and human rights violations against persons with mental illness are still widespread in these societies.
The loss of productivity caused by depression and anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders, costing the global economy nearly $ 1 trillion annually, while governments allocate less than 2 percent of their national budgets to mental health. And that is despite every dollar invested in expanding treatment for depression and anxiety, it brings a return of $ 5.
Corona and mental health
Prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, high-cost care services in the field of mental health were limited around the world, but this outbreak and its implications for the weakness of the health system, home quarantine and social distancing led to an exacerbation of the situation, due to fear of the spread of infection and the risk of its spread in the residence facilities for mental patients, such as Care and psychiatric institutions, in addition to closing mental health facilities to divert their use to care for people with HIV.
The measures to restrict the movement of people and home quarantine, cancel the daily routine of employees and workers, change the pattern of business and close schools in the interest of distance education, temporary unemployment and the absence of direct contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, manage feelings of fear of infection with the virus, and concern about close people at risk. In particular, all are reasons that have led to more alertness and vigilance to pay attention to mental health at the time of the Corona outbreak, especially for previously mentally ill people.
For this reason, the World Health Organization joined forces with partner organizations, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, to call for this year’s World Mental Health Day, for a significant increase in Investments are directed at the mental health sector, especially since the economic consequences of this pandemic are already being felt, as companies have laid off their employees in an attempt to save their business, or have already closed their doors. It is expected that the need for support in the field of mental health and psychosocial support will increase in the coming months and years due to the pandemic that is ravaging the world. Investing nationally and internationally in mental health programs, which have already suffered for years from chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.
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Events on the International Day
In the context of the increasing interest in this global day this year and in light of the Corona crisis, the major demonstration for mental health was held on October 9th, which was joined by mental health activists from all over the world, and its activities were broadcast live on Facebook 24 hours , As well as content from the opinions of moderators and first-hand experiences of influential people and personalities from around the world. The virtual audience heard stories of the dedication of civil society activists from 19 countries and influential figures from civil society groups who participated in the campaign, “Speak Your Mind”. Participants in the campaign are specialists and interested persons from the following nineteen countries: Argentina, Australia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tonga, the United Kingdom, and the states United.
Ingrid Daniels, President of the World Federation of Mental Health, said: “It has now been nearly 30 years since the World Mental Health Federation launched the first World Mental Health Day. During this period, we have witnessed an increasing openness to talk about mental health in many countries of the world.” The World Federation for Mental Health is an international organization established in 1948 to advance the issues of prevention of mental and emotional disorders, provide those with them with the necessary treatment and care, and promote mental health.
As for Elisha London, founder and CEO of United for Global Mental Health, she said, “It is now more necessary to invest in mental health than at any time in light of the lack of access to adequate and quality mental health services for many.”
On October 10, the World Health Organization will, for the first time, host a global online event on awareness-raising around the world to reduce mental illness and the harmful use of alcohol and drugs. World leaders and mental health experts will join the WHO Director-General to speak about their commitment to mental health and the additional work that can be done in this area. World-renowned musicians who have raised their voices loudly in advocating the importance of mental health will participate in performing musical connections. Sports figures of both genders, whose lives have been affected by mental health conditions, will also participate to talk about their experiences and showcase their ways of dealing with health conditions such as depression and anxiety.