World Mental Health Day 2020: Mental health for all

Health organisations around the world are calling this year’s World Mental Health Day, 10 October, the most important ever amid a global mental-health emergency.

woman sharing a virtual cuppa
Research by UK mental health charity, Mind, shows more than half (60%) of 16,000 adults surveyed said their mental health declined during the coronavirus lockdown. For young people, this rises to 68%.Many people have also developed new mental health problems during this time, while for others with existing mental health issues, these have worsened. Globally, figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) report that 1 billion people are living with a mental health disorder.Only a relative few people among this number have access to quality mental health services and support, while stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses remain widespread.

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Covid-19’s impact on mental wellbeing

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, issued a warning on the extent of the problem and urged action from policymakers and governments. “We are already seeing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching.”Dr Ingrid Daniels, President of the World Federation for Mental Health, which initiated the awareness-raising day nearly 30 years ago, acknowledged the progress made during this time. “We have seen an increasing openness to talk about mental health in many countries of the world. We need to see concerted efforts being made to build mental health systems that are appropriate and relevant for today’s – and tomorrow’s – world.”

Getting involved in World Mental Health Day

Elisha London, Founder and CEO of United for Global Mental Health, said that while more investment is needed for support, everyone can get involved in this year’s campaign with its key message of “mental health for all”.“Whether you have struggled with your own mental health, know someone who has been affected, are a mental health expert, or if you simply believe that investing in mental health is the right thing to do, move for mental health, and help make mental health care and support accessible for everyone.”In the UK, the Mental Health Foundation is encouraging people to have a virtual Tea & Talk to connect with friends, raise awareness and money for the charity. Mind, a charity that offers advice and support, would like to see everyone do something positive for their own mental wellbeing – either at home or at work – and share this to social media using #DoOneThing. Its website offers resources for ideas, including going for a walk, doing something creative, or taking steps to getting help for yourself or someone you know. 

Mental health matters at work

Employers are getting involved too. Research carried out by WorkLife by OpenMoney, a digital platform for financial advice and employee benefits, shows a third of small businesses worry about the impact coronavirus is having on the mental wellbeing of their employees. Rob Marshall, Managing Director of WorkLife, says employers should always be mindful of the issue. “World Mental Health Day is an important moment for everyone to pause, think about their own mental wellbeing and those of their friends and loved ones. But it’s more than a one day a year issue, and because many of us spend so much of our waking hours working, employers are in a unique position to help their employees with any worries they have about their mental health."Whether it’s just a chat over a cup of tea, or a fully-fledged programme to help with stress, it would be great if small firms could mark Mental Health Day in the workplace as well.”

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