October is a special month for many reasons; Halloween, cosy autumn nights, Mean Girls day and the countdown to Christmas, but it is extra important for another reason as today (10th October) is World Mental Health Day.
Now you may be thinking, why do we need a day for mental health? We know that mental health is an all year round thing. But days like today might just encourage one person to engage in mental health discussions which help to break down stigmas and educate many people.
It also might encourage people to speak up if they have been struggling. However, it is also an opportunity to “hold the attention of governments, donors, policy-makers and all stakeholders to ensure action for greater investment in mental health.” (World Federation for Mental Health)
According to the World Health Organisation: “About 450 million people live with mental disorders that are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide” (WHO’s World Health Report, 2001).
During the COVID-19 pandemic that we are still experiencing the rate of suicide drastically increased in the UK. The World Federation for Mental Health also reported that: “The mental health consequences of COVID-19 superseded by an already overburdened mental health landscape in which the number of people living with depression and or anxiety increased by nearly 50% from 416 million to 615 million (WHO, 2016).”
This year WHO are also calling for “greater investment for all” as it states that “for every US$ 1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity.”
So why have countries not invested in mental health? Maybe it’s due to a lack of money, or maybe it’s because they haven’t taken mental health seriously enough, one thing is for sure though, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of mental health for all, so here is hoping that greater investment is coming. Let’s make this dream a reality.
In the case of my country, the United States, I think it’s about priorities. I just don’t think mental health is a priority for many of our legislators.