October 10th every year is honored as World Mental Health Day. This time, in 2021, it will be over 18 months since the global pandemic hit us. In certain countries, life is resuming and coming back to a new normal. In other countries, the rates of transmissions and hospitalization remain incredibly high, still disrupting the lives of millions globally.
In almost all countries, the Covid-19 pandemic has already had a significant impact on people's mental health, especially the lives of frontline workers, people living alone, students, and others with pre-existing mental health conditions. At the same time, WHO surveys conducted in 2020 show that treating mental and neurological disorders was gravely disrupted during the pandemic.
Despite this, there is hope for optimism. During the May 2021 World Health Assembly, government bodies worldwide recognized the necessity of scaling up qualitative mental health care services across all verticals of society, endorsed by WHO's comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2030. This includes the latest and updated implementation to measure the overall progress.
Today, when we stand right at the end of 2021, it is time that we started capitalizing on renewed energy among global leaders to make qualitative mental health care availability a reality. The World Mental Health Day 2021 presents the governments and us with an opportunity to talk about steps taken to support this goal.
The overall objective of October 10th, being the World Mental Health Day, is to raise awareness in the context of mental health issues around the globe and to mobilize as many efforts in support of mental health.
This offers us an opportunity to be stakeholders working together on mental health issues and talk about the work and things required to ensure mental health care is a reality for people globally.
Mental Health For All - Making it a reality.
Despite the havoc that has wrecked on all our lives because of the global pandemic, this year's World Mental Health Day campaign showcases the efforts made in various countries to encourage others and highlight their positive stories to inspire others.
WHO aims to offer a variety of new material that can be easily read and understood by everyone. The topics for these materials will vary from taking care of ourselves and our mental health to providing support for others around us.
This is why the WHO's 2021 campaign for advocacy against mental health issues is "Mental Health Care For All - Let's Make It A Reality."
Offering support and care:
WHO's new comprehensive mental health action plan is available on its official website. It is accompanied by a flyer that can be used by anyone and everyone as a part of their campaign. This will be required if you are looking forward to raising awareness about the World Mental Health Day 2021 or WHO's plan. It also helps encourage people to take concrete actions for adequate implementation.
Towards the end of September, WHO aims to launch the newer edition of the WHOs Mental Health Atlas that offers people a clear picture of all the resources available for mental health, both in different countries and globally. It also aims at highlighting the overall progress made so far and the gaps that still exist. All the information provided in WHO's report can also be used by anyone in the world for campaign material.
World Mental Health Day is more about taking care of yourself and others around you than pure advocacy. It offers people an empowering opportunity to look after themselves, their own mental health, and others around them as well. It provides them a chance to give support to others around them.
WHO's campaign releases plenty of new material to assist people living with one of the most common mental health problems - Depression.
Theme for 2021
The theme for World Mental Health Day 2021 is "Mental health in an unequal world." A unanimous global voting system chose the theme, including the World Federation for Mental Health, stakeholders, and mental health advocates and supporters because our world is currently highly polarized. The wealthy are becoming wealthier, and the number of people living in poverty is still extremely high. The global pandemic highlighted inequalities in our society due to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and lack of human rights in some parts. People living with mental health conditions also face similar polarizations from society. Such inequalities have a definite impact on the mental health of people.
The theme chosen for 2021 highlights that access to mental health services is still unequal, with most people between 75%-95% suffering from various mental health disorders in low and middle-income nations. They are also not able to gain access to any mental health services. Access in high-income, developed countries is no better. A significant lack of investment in mental health services is disproportionate to the overall health budget, contributing to major mental health treatment and advocacy gaps.
Most people with mental health issues do not get the treatments they deserve and are entitled to. So, together with their families and caregivers, they continue to experience discrimination and stigma.
The overall gap between "haves" and "have nots" grows ever so wide, and this leads to an increasing and continuing unmet need to take care of people with mental health problems.
The discrimination and stigma people with mental health problems experience affects their mental health and physical health. This stigma can also affect their educational opportunities, future/current job prospects and earnings, and relationships with their families and loved ones. This inequality needs to be addressed and should not be allowed to be continued. We all have a role to play in addressing these discriminations and disparities. We also have a role to play in ensuring people with mental health problems are not living an unequal life, away from the opportunities and love they deserve. We should all ensure they are fully integrated into society and every aspect of life.
In the past few years, it has been increasingly acknowledged that mental health has an extremely important role in all our lives. It is crucial for the well-being of people and when it comes to achieving global development goals. This is adequately illustrated by including mental health in worldwide sustainable development goals by several nations.
Depression is one of the primary causes of disability. At the same time, suicide is the second leading cause of death among the ages 15-29 worldwide. People with severe mental health conditions face premature death, with some dying as early as two decades because of the preventable physical diseases that these conditions accompany.
Despite all the progress in most countries today, people with mental health conditions often experience stigma, discrimination, and severe human rights violation. Most mental health conditions can be treated effectively at a low cost. Yet, the gap seen today between people needing care and those with access to such care is substantially low.
Increased investment is required on all major fronts for mental health awareness, increasing understanding of the problems, and reducing overall stigma.
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