Blog: World Mental Health Day – Striving for Global Mental Health Progress and Awareness
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World Mental Health Day, founded by the World Federation for Mental Health, is recognized every October 10th to promote global mental health awareness and activism. In accordance with this year’s theme, organizations, communities, and individuals are encouraged to participate in the campaign to help “Make Mental Health & Well-being for All a Global Priority”.
By Amethyst Zapisocky, ESPC Volunteer
What is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day (WMHD), honoured every 10th of October, began in 1992 as an annual activity by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to raise awareness and spur action for supporting mental health. (1) There are many non-profit and government organizations that officially partner with the WFMH to establish a global campaign for Mental Health Day, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Dignity Project, Youth for Mental Health (YMH), and the Breath-Body-Mind (BBM) foundation. Themes for WMHD have been incorporated since 1994, with the chosen theme for 2022 being “Make Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority.” (1)
Why Is Mental Health Awareness Important?
Advocating for and destigmatizing mental health is crucial. Issues regarding mental wellness have always been present, but the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the need for support, understanding, and compassion. As stated by the WHO, mental disorders have significantly risen since COVID-19, and there is still a considerable treatment gap for those seeking help. (2) This disparity is even more prevalent for low-income or marginalized populations due to discrimination practices, lack of accessibility, stigma, and language barriers. (3) According to the WHO, in 2019, 1 in 8 people globally have a mental disorder, yet comprehensive care and sufficient resources are lacking. (4) This shows the importance of accurate education on wellness, as well as the need for inclusive, accessible, and effective mental health resources.
What Happens on World Mental Health Day?
Campaigns related to WMHD involve events and activism organized by institutions, governments, communities, and individuals at regional and international levels. (5) A governmental example would be country leaders recognizing the day through public endorsement, such as last year when Justin Trudeau (the current Canadian prime minister) provided a public statement on WMHD. (6) On an organizational level, the United Nations (UN) hosts events throughout October to promote the well-being of its personnel – this includes mental health panel discussions and learning programs. (7) Communities are encouraged to schedule programming for mental health awareness using demonstrations such as vigils, marches, and rallies. (8) Individuals can also participate in WMHD by sharing or listening to personal mental health experiences, or by educating themselves or others. This can be done on social media platforms by using hashtags such as #WorldMentalHealthDay. (2)
World Mental Health Day and Mental Health in Alberta
The theme for 2022’s World Mental Health Day, Make Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority, speaks to the global need for mental health awareness and action, but what can Albertans do for this campaign? Alberta has recently seen a spike in demand for mental health services, during and post-COVID-19. (9) (10) According to Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC), in 2020, Alberta has the highest diagnoses of anxiety disorders in Canada (23%), with the second highest rate of depression diagnoses (22%). (11) This 2020 report found that over half of Canadians felt federal and provincial governments should be doing more to support Canadian mental health. (11) The Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) 2021-2024 strategic plan for Edmonton (accessible as a PDF file here) states that mental health has been largely undervalued and ignored – even before COVID-19. (12) This is most evident in marginalized communities, which have often been neglected by mental support systems. (12) Notably, there is a need for culturally sensitive Indigenous healthcare. (13)
The CMHA notes that the general population is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of mental health; in part because campaigns such as WMHD have primed public consciousness about the importance of mental wellness. (12) This demonstrates the relevance WMHD has to Alberta. Albertan individuals, businesses, and organizations can honour the WMHD’s campaign by promoting progress in mental health care. This means advocating for destigmatization, inclusive care, and widespread education. Donating to mental health organizations is a great way to participate in this campaign. Many global associations can be donated to (such as the WFMH directly), but there are also Edmonton and Alberta-based options. The Canadian Mental Health Association, one of the most established and extensive mental health organizations in Canada, (14) offers many national and regional ways to donate, including specific divisions for Alberta and Edmonton.
World Mental Health Day Conclusion and Takeaways
WMHD is an annual campaign that strives for global innovation in mental health awareness and resource development. Headed by the WFMH and WHO, the day brings together many organizations, governments, communities, and citizens toward the goal of destigmatizing and supporting inclusive mental wellness. Participating in WMHD can involve taking part in campaign events, donating to mental health causes (such as CMHA), and/or simply sharing/listening to experiences. Discussion about mental health is powerful because honest, empowering, and compassionate conversations can reduce the stigma associated with it. (15) More information about participating can be found on the World Mental Health Day’s website, with an online PDF of their 2022 campaign toolkit available to the public (here). Information on international WMHD events can be found on its webpage (here).
Mental health is important, which is becoming ever more clear from the effects of the pandemic and socio-economic instabilities. (2) Managing mental wellness can be difficult, but confidential and secure help is available. Various Edmonton-based programs and services can be accessed through the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website (here). The Hope for Wellness helpline is available for Indigenous-specific wellness needs and can be reached by calling 1-855-242-3310. For immediate support, call the CMHA’s distress line at 780-482-4357.
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Amethyst Zapisocky is working towards a BA in psychology at the University of Alberta. A fourth-year undergraduate student, her career focus is on research and social development. She values equity, learning, and philanthropy. Personally, Amethyst enjoys statistics, mindfulness and jazz music.
- World Federation for Mental Health. (2022, August). About the world mental health day. WFMH World Mental Health Day. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://wmhdofficial.com/category/about-wmhd/
- World Health Organization. (2022). World mental health day 2022: Make mental health & well-being for all a global priority. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2022
- Shukla, D. (2022, April 20). Why mental healthcare is less accessible to marginalized communities. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/why-mental-healthcare-is-less-accessible-to-marginalized-communities
- World Health Organization. (2022, June 08). Mental disorders. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders
- World Federation for Mental Health. (2022). Events across the globe. WFMH World Mental Health Day. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://wmhdofficial.com/events/
- Prime Minister of Canada. (2021, October 10). Statement by the Prime Minister for World Mental Health Day. Government of Canada. https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/statements/2021/10/10/statement-prime-minister-world-mental-health-day
- United Nations. (2022). Communications toolkit for UN organizations [PDF]. https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/communications-toolkit-for-un-organizations_world-mental-health-day-2022.pdf
- World Federation for Mental Health. (2022). Make mental health & wellbeing for all a global priority: WMHD campaign toolkit 2022 [PDF]. WFMH World Mental Health Day. https://wmhdofficial.com/wp-content/uploads/wmhd2022-toolkit_v02.pdf
- Mertz, E. (2021, February 16). ‘Anxiety and depression are increasing’: Alberta doctor sees spike in mental health visits. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7617298/alberta-doctor-depression-suicide-covid-19/
- Opinko, D. (2020, April 20). Alberta saw the biggest drop in mental health scores in Canada. LethbridgeBridgeNewsNOW. https://lethbridgenewsnow.com/
- Mental Health Research Canada & Pollara. (2020). Mental health during COVID-19 outbreak wave 1 [PDF]. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5f31a311d93d0f2e28aaf04a/t/5f86800c5757437eb2b17f08/1602650133129/Full+Report+of+Findings+of+Survey+-+FINAL.pdf
- Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). Strategic plan 2021–2024 [PDF]. https://edmonton.cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/CMHA-Edmonton-Strategic-Plan-2021-24-FINAL.pdf
- Edwardson, L. (2022, January 06). First Nations family says culturally sensitive mental health care difficult to find. CBC. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/mental-health-youth-indigenous-calgary-culturally-sensitive-1.6286889
- Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). Our history. https://cmha.ca/who-we-are/cmha-national/our-history/#:~:text=About%20CMHA&text=Through%20a%20presence%20in%20more,Canadians%20to%20flourish%20and%20thrive.
- Belanger, L. (2020, January 20). Stop the stigma of mental health issues and disorders. Government of Canada. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/maple-leaf/defence/2020/01/stop-stigma-mental-health-issues-disorders.html