World Mental Health Day 2021
By Gemma Raw
It's World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10th October, and we’re quite taken with this year’s message, which is all about Mental Health in an Unequal World.
This week, global leaders took to the stage to strengthen international efforts to support mental health. As the spine-tingling message ‘together we can make a difference’ trickled through every speech, it was great to see mental health take the spotlight it so rightfully deserves. The timing could not be more apt with the COVID-19 crisis, which has brought new challenges and highlighted the disparity in people accessing the care they need. Organised by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), World Mental Health Day recognises that good mental health is critical to the functioning of society at the best of times. But, more importantly, it must be at the “front and centre of every country’s response to and recovery from the pandemic,” and should be accessible to everyone.
There is no health without mental health
It’s a bold statement, but the WFMH’s message that “there is no health without mental health” is very true.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 700,000 people sadly die due to suicide every year, and for every suicide, there are many more people who either attempt suicide or struggle profoundly with their mental health. Even before the outset COVID-19, depression and anxiety had reached alarming levels. The NHS estimated in 2019 that 1 in 6 people was battling a common mental health problem at any given time. Now the situation is even more acute with people experiencing significantly more anxiety, stress, and depression since the pandemic began, with young people's mental health particularly worrying.
How to observe World Mental Health Day
There are plenty of ways that World Mental Health Day can be observed each year, and these include:
Participating in the global online World Mental Health Day event on 10 October 2021. Hear from WHO as it showcases the work its staff are doing worldwide to improve access to mental health support. Also, the event is a great opportunity to hear from world-renowned mental health researchers and public personalities sharing their personal experiences. If you’re a mental health professional, you could include the event as a CPD activity.
Join in on the conversation. Raise awareness about mental health by sharing resources and news with family, friends and colleagues. This year’s hashtag is #WorldMentalHealthDay
Taking time to reflect and observe self-care. Nobody is immune to having struggles with their mental health, including those working for the NHS. Reach out to your line manager or your local staff mental health and wellbeing hub, which has been designed to provide health and social care colleagues with rapid access to services.
Raise money for a mental health charity. You could choose to fundraise or simply donate to a local mental health charity. Every town will have a selection of mental health charities but here’s a list of national charities that also support local communities - Mind, the Mental Health Foundation, Young Minds, Rethink, and Together for Mental Wellbeing.
How mental health charities are contributing to World Mental Health Day
Many charities and other organisations are planning events and awareness campaigns to coincide with World Mental Health Day. Here are just some of the highlights...
Mental Health UK is partnering with ITN Productions Industry News to produce a news-style programme to raise the profile of mental health in the UK and how it affects people, from those severely affected by mental illness, to those whose mental health has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mental Health Foundation is selling badges and face coverings featuring the green ribbon, the international symbol for mental health awareness. All proceeds go towards the charity's vital work, which can change the lives of people with mental health issues.
Mentally Healthy Schools is helping teachers and pupils participate in World Mental Health Day with a list of 20 simple wellbeing activities and tips.
Mind has put together a range of resources which they hope will start conversations about mental health inequality.
Throughout the day on 10 October, Rethink Mental Illness will be sharing stories, videos and facts about the inequalities people severely affected by mental illness face and what the charity is doing to challenge and change these situations. You can join them on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram channels.
The NHS Every Mind Matters website also has lots of information and resources about mental health, including wellbeing tips and advice for supporting friends, family or colleagues with mental health issues.
How to spot when a colleague may be struggling
We can all help break the stigma of mental health by checking in on one another; taking time to observe those around us.
Here are just a few signs to look out for that may be an indication that a colleague is struggling:
Lack of motivation
Emotional changes that are new
Withdrawing from conversations of activities they would usually engage in
Increased absenteeism from work (although be careful not to pry)
Making mistakes in their work
Low energy (beyond what would be expected)
Reaching out to someone could make all the difference, even if it’s just to let them know that you care.
A special mention to all our Mental Health Nurses
Words alone will never quite sum up the amazing work of our community of mental health nurses. However, this World Mental Health Day, we’d like to say a big thank you to every single one of you. Your work is incredibly tough and made even more complex by a global pandemic, but the resilience, care and commitment you continue to show is nothing short of remarkable. So, we celebrate World Mental Health Day wholeheartedly, together!