Celebrating World Mental Health Day

“Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority” is the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. The day was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global organization involving more than 150 countries.

With global incidence of depression, anxiety, and suicide on the rise, raising awareness for mental health is arguably more essential than ever before. As of 2020, behavioral health disorders became the number 1 cause of disability worldwide.

Data from the United Nations reports that nearly 1 billion people worldwide have some form of a mental health disorder. In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of common conditions such as depression and anxiety increased by more than 25 percent, according to WHO.

In the United States, nearly 10 million people are living with a serious mental disorder, with the most common conditions including anxiety, major depression, and bipolar disorder. The National Alliance of Mental Health reports that one in five Americans experiences a mental illness in their lifetime. Other studies have shown that as many as 80 percent of Americans struggled with symptoms of anxiety, depression, grief, or isolation during the pandemic.

A Silver Lining for Mental Healthcare 

While the pandemic spurred an increase in mental illness, it also accelerated momentum to raise awareness about these conditions and increased accessibility to crucial support and services. In a whole new way, it established mental health as a critical priority, one that requires the same levels of preventative care, screenings, and treatment as do physical ailments.

Newly prioritized discussions around mental health have created a new baseline knowledge. It accelerated efforts in the professional mental health and physical healthcare communities to destigmatize mental health issues, according to the UN Chronicle

Some more good news is that the number of people seeking help for mental illness is rising. A YouGov poll showed a 13 percent increase in the number of young American adults (ages 18 to 24) who sought counseling during the pandemic. More workplaces, schools, and other institutions have started to provide mental health days.

At the federal level, The American Rescue Plan of 2022 laid the groundwork for transforming mental healthcare for all Americans, investing nearly $5.5 billion nationwide to strengthen mental health and substance use care. It also invested billions of dollars in schools for mental health treatment for students and staff.

Telehealth has also played a major role in advancing access to mental healthcare. Whereas proximity, transportation, workday schedules, childcare demands, and other health concerns may have prevented individuals from seeking care, telehealth appointments empower access to licensed counselors or mental health professionals from the relative comfort and privacy of their homes. When analyzing telehealth outpatient visits between 2019 and 2021, Kaiser Family Foundation researchers found that visits for mental health or substance use increased annually, going from 11 percent in 2019 to 39 percent in 2021. 

Celebrating World Mental Health Day

As the World Health Organization notes, World Mental Health Day provides us all a chance to reconnect on a shared mission to collectively improve our mental health, worldwide. Lack of understanding and pervasive stigma prevent open dialogue, connection, and discussion around our needs as individuals, communities, and global citizens. By engaging with 2022’s theme of “make mental health for all a global priority”, we can help make good on this goal. 

There are endless ways that individuals and behavioral health agencies can participate. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • Exercise your voice on social media. Discuss the cause and help dispel stigmas around mental illness and seeking help. Be sure to tag your posts with #worldmentalhealthday #mentalhealth and #mentalhealthawareness. This helps increase engagement, attract followers, reach a targeted audience, and makes posts easier to find on search.
  • Change the conversation by advocating for using appropriate language when speaking about mental health. Inappropriate terms or hurtful phrases can leave a lasting impact. Science has proven – words matter. 
  • Share your message with the world on the World Mental Health Federation’s Voices that Matter page. Helpful stories, approaches, tips, and advice will be selected and shared on their global website all year long. 
  • Socialize and share some of the data and statistics from this blog. Help establish a broader cultural understanding of the impact of mental health disorders worldwide. By painting a broader picture around what is affecting everyone the world over, you will help engage and connect people on a shared mission.  

Be sure to check out individual country’s campaigns for celebrating the day worldwide. Japan is prioritizing connection for all, while India is hosting an event to showcase suicide prevention strategies and share stories of hope. Get inspired by international peers with ideas from The World Federation for Mental Health’s event page, which contains a list of activities that institutions, organizations, and individuals around the world are organizing for World Mental Health Day.

Achieving Good Mental Health

On October 10th and all year long, encourage your patients to incorporate habits into their daily lives that promote healthy mental well-being such as connecting and building relationships with others, being physically active, learning new skills, using their time and talents to benefit others, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in relaxing activities or meditation. Consider adopting some best practices for yourself, too.

Perhaps behavioral health practices can glean some ideas from other countries that are known to focus on mental well-being. According to the non-profit The Borgen Project, Denmark’s work week averages 37 hours spread across five days, enabling citizens to have sufficient leisure time. Employees take “stress leave” to avoid burnout.

Most employers in Sweden offer personal care benefits for wellness and exercise, including funding for different wellness activities such as gym memberships, massages, physiotherapy, and acupuncture, Sweden and Me reports.

The United Kingdom launched the government’s first initiative to combat loneliness. All general practitioners in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023.

Resources and Support

There are many organizations that offer free resources and support for people struggling with mental health issues. Here are a few of our favorites:

On October 10th and beyond, mental and behavioral healthcare is a new priority in high demand, making it essential for agencies to implement technology that can streamline time-consuming operational and financial functions. Our purpose-built EHR offers features designed to help keep your organization’s financial and clinical operations running smoothly, so you can focus on what you do best – taking care of your patients. To learn more about how NextStep Solutions is designed to help behavioral health practices operate at their best, contact us today. 

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