World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th in order to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. It presents an opportunity to open up new discussions and broaden the already existing discourse regarding mental health and the problems connected to it. It is an opportunity for everybody to learn more about mental well-being, to share their own experience, and to learn more about how to support those who suffer from a mental illness.
The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has set this year’s theme as “Mental Health in an Unequal World”. The members of the WFMH voted for this theme after last year accentuated all sorts of widening inequalities and demonstrated how polarized the world is. These inequalities regard things like race, gender, but also the accessibility of mental health care. The WFMH states that between 75% to 95% of people with mental health disorders in low- and middle-income countries have no access to mental health services at all, and high-income countries are not actually doing much better.
The lack of funding in mental health care causes a deficiency in the quality of services available for people with mental health problems. In addition to that, mental health issues are still stigmatized in many parts of the world and people who suffer from mental illnesses are still being discriminated against. This can deter people from seeking help when they need it and the consequences can be fatal. The lack of support for people with mental illness limits their opportunities in life. People living with a mental illness also have a shorter life expectancy than others.
The pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of very much everyone and has made life even more difficult for those already struggling with a mental illness. However, on a more positive note, the crisis has instigated new ways of targeting mental health issues and providing mental health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality” as their campaign slogan for this year’s World Mental Health Day, also highlighting the inequality of mental health care accessibility. Making mental health care available for as many people as possible is a goal the whole world should strive for and we are doing our part in this endeavor as well.
It was during the pandemic that we decided to create our mental well-being app. TalkToPoppy! is an app based on conversation, through which Poppy helps those who struggle with their mental well-being or feel lonely and need someone to talk to. Numbers of people who needed such help and didn’t have access to it increased vastly during the crisis due to lockdowns and social distancing. Although our app cannot fully replace human contact, it has been able to help and improve the mental state of thousands of people who have downloaded the app since its launch earlier this year. You can download the app for free from Google Play or App Store to try it out yourself.
World Mental Health Day is here to remind people to take care of themselves and others. However, we should be doing this every day of the year. Educate yourself about mental health issues. It will help you cope better with your mental health and understand a little better what others might be going through. Support people around you that are affected by mental health problems: everyone can make a contribution to make their lives easier. And if you feel like sharing your own stories and activities, remember it can help make others feel less alone in their condition and inspire people to make a positive impact and support each other.
Here are some resources you might find helpful if you are struggling with your own emotional well-being or if you want to find out more information about the topic:
Mental Health (WHO): https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1
Mental well-being: resources for the public (WHO): https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/mental-well-being-resources-for-the-public
Finally, here is a list of some crisis hotlines you can call whenever you feel your mental state is getting out of hand: https://www.talktopoppy.com/mental-health-crisis-hotlines