The World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October every year. It is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. The overall objective is of raising awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries; thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide.
This Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health including psychiatrists, counselors, mental health workers and even those suffering from mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Every year there is a different theme for world mental health day. This year the theme is Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.
Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example starting university or starting a new job, becoming more independent and probably leaving home for further studies or for work, trying to understand oneself more and developing ones personality, entering relationships etc. For many, these are exciting times. These can also be times of stress and apprehension however.
In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Young people are spending most of their day on the internet – experiencing cyber-crimes, cyber bullying, watching porn, and playing violent video games. There is increasing competition in all walks of life.
The need for leading a larger than life -lifestyle or having a vacation abroad or getting a wonderful pay-package or having good looks and so on has lead to ever increasing dissatisfaction towards life in general. Suicide, depression, and substance abuse numbers have been steadily rising. Young adults are at the age when serious mental illnesses can occur and yet they are taught little to nothing about mental illness and well-being. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.
This day can bring attention to the issues our youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient. This year is used to emphasize the needs of our youth. It is time to take a stand and demand more for this vulnerable population – our future depends on it!