WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
Tomila Sahbaei | October 24th, 2021 | 5 min read
This October 10th marked the 2021 World Mental Health Day, which is meant to de-stigmatize the topic of mental health while also providing people with key information and resources so they can take better care of their own mental health. This blog reflects on this World Mental Health Day this year, and its purpose as a whole.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health speaks to a person’s state of mind. Good mental health could be defined as a person’s state of mind where they realize their own potential and are able to cope with life stressors and problems in a healthy and rational way. A person’s mental health changes, some days an individual may find themselves having a good mental health, while feeling poorly on another. Additionally, mental health is different from mental illness. An illness is something a doctor or other health professional diagnoses. Only some individuals may struggle from a mental illness, whereas everyone has mental health, regardless of what state it is in.
Mental Health during COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people learned a lot of ways they can keep their physical health in check in order to protect themselves from the virus. However, with lockdowns and a lack of in-person interactions, individuals felt their mental health take a toll. This is evidenced by the response to COVID-19, as a lot of government officials tried to give mental health advice in their reportage. Warnings are not always enough though, and with many resource centers shut down people felt lost about how to seek help. This is reflected by the theme for 2021’s World Mental Health day. WHO’s theme for the year was “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.” The organization reflected on the pandemic, saying it exposed “the need to scale up quality mental health services.” This theme also reflects the discrepancies between people’s ability to access mental health care. The World Federation for Mental Health cites that in low to middle income countries, 75% to 95% of people are unable to access the mental health care they need. The purpose of this year’s theme then is to not only break down the stigma around mental health, but to also demand better resources for people who are struggling with their mental health.
The History of World Mental Health Day
While COVID-19 may have exposed the importance of mental health care and awareness, World Mental Health day has been aiming for change long before the pandemic. In fact, the day was first observed in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. For the next three consecutive years, the day had no theme. The first themed World Mental Health Day was observed in 1994. Interestly enough, the theme for 1994 is reminiscent of this year’s theme: “Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World.” While progress has been made since 1992, it is evident that organizations like the World Federation for Mental Health and WHO know there is more work to be done.
While this blog has been centred around the topic of mental health and World Mental Health day, this next section shares possible resources for people who may be suffering or in a crisis. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, know that you’re not alone and can reach out to the following resources:
Canadian Suicide Prevention 24/7 Hotline
1-833-456-4566 (Quebec Residents: 1.866.277.3553)
Kids Help Phone 24/7 Hotline (for Canadians aged 5-29)
1-800-668-6868 (or text CONNECT to 686868, or get in touch through Facebook Messenger)
Indian Residential School Survivors Society 24/7 Crisis Support
1-800-721-0026 (more services available on their website)
Hope for Wellness Hotline (for Indigenous Canadians)
1-855-242-3310 (or online chat option)
Crisis Services Canada