World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October annually. The objective of this day is to raise awareness of mental health concerns across the globe and provide support for mental health to those who need it.
This year, the theme for World Mental Health day 2021 is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”. The theme has been set by the World Federation for Mental Health in response to the rising mental health inequality accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world has unanimously recognized the need to mobilize efforts to upscale mental health services. This year’s campaign is already in place, and that is a reason for optimism.
Read on to know more about world mental health global awareness and the 2021 campaign!
Celebrating world mental health day in an unequal world
October 2021 will mark almost 18 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We can all agree that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns weren’t easy on any of us. Even though life has started to return to normal in most countries, the pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s mental health.
Some groups of people such as frontline workers, women, students, people living alone, and so on, were already pre-disposed to mental health issues. They have been particularly affected by the pandemic as services for mental health were disrupted.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an upsurge in the concerns of mental health and associated substance abuse. In fact, concerns about suicidal ideation have risen as well.
A study conducted in January 2021 reported that about 41 percent of adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder. Suicide rates have been on the rise since the beginning of the last decade, but they have worsened significantly during the pandemic.
Early 2020 data has also brought to light that drug overdose deaths were particularly pronounced in the lockdown months beginning from early March 2020.
There are several ways in which the pandemic has affected the mental health of people. However, most point to the widespread social distancing and social isolation measures. Social isolation has been linked to poor mental health and issues including anxiety and depression. Sleep disruptions have jumped the normative scale too.
Access to mental health services
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is particularly significant because it acknowledges that people around the world do not have the same access to mental health services.
Many social inequalities act as a barrier to reducing mental health problems. In many developing and underdeveloped countries, mental health isn’t even acknowledged as a serious issue. Besides, there are many hindrances to accessing mental health services. These include racism, poverty, sexual orientation, homelessness, and so on.
Mental health inequality is a serious issue because most people do not have access to support networks, let alone mental health services. Treatment may be readily available, but most people cannot afford it. Additionally, most workplaces and educational institutions around the world have no safeguards for addressing mental health issues.
The world is an unequal place, and COVID-19 has made that clear. However, the time has come to capitalize on efforts dedicated to reducing mental health inequality and providing people the care they need.
During the World Health Assembly in May 2021, governments of all countries identified the need to scale up mental health services and endorsed WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.
Similarly, World Mental Health Day presents an opportunity for global leaders and civil society organizations to spread mental health awareness and discuss the necessary steps that should be taken in support of the goal.
Mental health care tips in a post-pandemic era?
1. Talk about your feelings.
Talking helps always. Talking about your feelings and venting can help you manage stress and put you in a better mind when you are feeling troubled. It is important to have a support system or network of people. Your support system should consist of your parents, partner, close friends, and anyone you trust enough to talk about your problems.
2. Manage expectations.
As the world is starting to go back to normalcy, you may have unrealistic expectations from yourself or others. Remember that everyone is struggling. Post-quarantine may bring bouts of unprecedented productivity, but it can’t be permanent.
You will find cognitive difficulties, such as low concentration, low motivation, and a state of distraction. These are normal. Take things as it is. Don’t expect too much from yourself. As you settle into the new normal, set realistic goals.
3. Establish a routine.
Routine can help a person through their darkest days. Routine is your friend. There may not be much you can control right now, but sticking to a routine will help you stay balanced and sane. Routine helps you manage anxiety and adapt to reality. Craft out a simple routine that consists of both work time and non-work leisure time.
4. Stay connected
Staying connected to people you like is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Grab a drink with your co-worker, go for the Sunday brunch, or plan a movie night. Even if staying connected in person is not possible, don’t hesitate to call your best friend for a quick chat!
5. Stay in the present
It’s easy to wander off to the past or to think about the future. But it isn’t the most effective thing to do during crisis times. Take each day as it comes, go with the flow, and focus on the things that are in your control. There is no point in worrying about the future.
Lastly, try to take it one day at a time.
World mental health day: A sign of hope?
The recognition of World Mental Health Day may be a sign of hope, but people must not forget that a lot is left to be done.