The 10th of October each year is designated as World Mental Health Day. There is a designated day for almost anything-sisters, siblings, twins, mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins, friendship, left-handers, albums, chocolate, happiness and cheeseburgers. Some of these are good for your wellbeing and others not so much.
Now that the day has passed, is anything going to change? There are some like myself who are championing for mental health as much as we can, raising awareness, sharing knowledge and expertise and working with organisations to implement robust health and wellbeing strategies.
The United Nations has declared that mental health is now a global crisis. One in four people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives, suicide rates are increasing, the global costs of mental health are astounding and increasing every year, the stigma still exists, the myths are still rampant and mental health is still very much a taboo subject.
All is not lost. More people are becoming aware of their own mental health and are actively seeking treatments, e.g. online. High profile involvement and advocacy has helped raise awareness from the likes of Prince William and Prince Harry, Stephen Fry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jenifer Lewis, Kid Cudi, Jada Pinkett-Smith and many more. The message must continue and reach far and wide. Some organisations have health and wellbeing programmes for their employees and are encouraging them to adopt healthier lifestyles.
There is much work to be done to have sufficient resources and support in place for people who experience mental health conditions and for those who care for them. There is also much scope for raising awareness on mental health and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Here are a few of my proposals for a way forward:-
- Raise general awareness on mental health to everyone– don’t restrict it to one day a year or a week. It needs regular messaging and advertisement. The messaging also needs to be age appropriate where required.
- Talk about mental health in the media and have regular publicity campaigns.
- Governments to
allocate specific funding to mental health and mental health programmes.
- Each government ought to have a national policy on health and well-being and within that some specific focus on mental health.
- Create general facilities accessible to the public to help them improve their overall health and well-being, e.g. public spaces such as parks and green areas, leisure and fitness centres and quiet spaces or reduced noise/noise free zones.
- Offer affordable mental health services for people to access through various means whether face to face, online, via email or phone.
In all of this, use trained and qualified professionals and experts to inform the planning and implementation.
Let’s work together to end the stigma.
Jolene King is Principal Consultant of 246 King Consulting (http://246king.com). She is a trained Occupational Psychologist, experienced Human Resources professional, is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and is trained in mental health conditions and improving personal health, exercise and nutrition. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.