What is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day began on October 10th, 1992 when the World Federation for Mental Health created an annual day to promote mental health advocacy and public education. By 1994, it was decided that each year should have a theme within mental health to focus on. In 1995, the planning kit and materials became available in French and in Spanish, with the help of the Pan American Health Organization. Since then, themes have ranged from Mental Health and Aging to Mental Health First Aid and The Relationship Between Physical and Mental Health.
What does this year focus on?
This year, the theme is Suicide Prevention. According to the WHO, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in people aged 15-29 years old and for every completed suicide, there are 20 attempts. Every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies of suicide. Moreover, the WHO found that 79% of suicides occur in low-income societies, contrary to the cultural belief that suicide is a problem for high-income countries. There are many risk factors for suicide, including loneliness, discrimination, relationship problems, financial problems, chronic pain, chronic illness, violence, abuse, humanitarian conflicts, and an experience of loss. However, the strongest risk factor for suicide is a prior attempt at suicide.
How can I help?
You can get involved in this year’s World Mental Health Day in a variety of ways. Improving awareness, reducing stigma, supporting those struggling with suicide, and improving knowledge of how to prevent suicide are the four key goals of this year’s theme. You can help by simply starting a conversation about suicide. Learn about the four key evidence-based interventions to reduce suicide-restricting access to means of suicide, helping your people cope with life stressors, early identification or those thinking about suicide, and responsible reporting of suicide. You can help by posting videos about suicide (using the hashtags #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, #40seconds, and #WorldMentalHealthDay), to reduce stigma and to educate the public on prevention. You can be a part of the cultural shift in the way we view suicide by talking about suicide or supporting those you know who have thoughts of suicide, prior suicide attempts, or other mental health problems.
Where can I learn more?
World Health Organization flyer with ideas on ways to contribute: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/mental-health/suicide/flyer-40seconds-web.pdf?sfvrsn=5ba643c_2
World Health Organization event page: https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2019/10/10/default-calendar/world-mental-health-day-2019-focus-on-suicide-prevention
World Federation for Mental Health: https://wfmh.global/world-mental-health-day-2019/