Today, on World Mental Health Day we share the official words from Professor Gabriel Ivbijaro MBE JP, Secretary General of the World Federation for Mental Health, the founders of the day.
Our National Work Life Week series will resume tomorrow.
Make mental health & wellbeing for all a global priority
Today, we are celebrating World Mental Health Day with the theme ‘Make Mental Health & Wellbeing for All a Global Priority’ a theme chosen by a global vote that was open to the public, including World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) members, stakeholders, and supporters.
Our world is reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, wars, displacement, and the climate emergency, all of which have consequences for the wellbeing of world citizens.
Rates of people experiencing suicidal ideas are increasing globally and people with lived experiences of mental health, their families and other populations continue to tell us that their mental health wellbeing is not always at the forefront of governments, those who pay for services or society at large. Stigma and discrimination continue to be a barrier to social inclusion and access to the right care.
Some good news
There are however some good news messages.
There is increasing evidence that the prevention of mental ill health is possible by using both general and targeted evidence-based interventions. These can improve outcomes for individuals across the spectrum of mental disorder and life course. We can all play our part in increasing awareness about what preventive mental health interventions work.
We need to work with governments and other stakeholders to apply universal preventive measures that reduce the risk of mental ill-health. This includes the promotion of social inclusion policies, support and direct investment for vulnerable populations and investment in communities and young people to reduce crime. We need to support wellbeing interventions across the life course from pregnancy, birth, early childhood, early teens, adulthood to older adulthood – we need to improve the social determinants of health and address mental health stigma and discrimination.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) adopted at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2015 cannot be achieved unless we make a meaningful investment in improving mental wellbeing for all. The COVID 19 pandemic has shown that many health systems are ill-prepared to deal with the physical and mental health challenges faced by their populations.
Mental health in the workplace
Employers generally are unprepared. The culture of our workplaces needs to support the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce, so that employers are better prepared to support the mental health wellbeing in the working population. There is a need to establish global mental health and wellbeing targets that can bring together evidence that captures the social determinants of health, including promoting exercise, widening access to good nutrition and food, all of which will have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The mental health and wellbeing of many health, social care and frontline workers has been affected by the pandemic and systems need to be strengthened to better support such staff during times of crisis and challenge.
COVID 19 has shown that no nation was prepared for the associated mental health crisis and the effects of Long Covid. We need a new compact for mental health.
Society and citizens matter
Civil society’s role needs to be enhanced and enabled so that people can make their own contribution to mental health and wellbeing in their communities and workplaces, including harnessing peer support.
Governments have a role to play. Collaboration between governments, citizens and planners needs to be strengthened. Policy change is often seen as a tool to deliver care packages, but this should not be the case. Policies should be regarded as care packages. The international community and those who pay for services need to understand this so that we can develop truly joined up processes that deliver mental health and wellbeing to all our population. No community and no individual should be left behind.
The 2022 World Mental Health Day theme ‘Make Mental Health & Wellbeing for All a Global Priority’ provides us with an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to make the world a better place.
We are at a crossroads. It is imperative to take the correct path.
We invite you to join this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign.
About World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time on 10th October 1992. The day is officially commemorated every year and aims to raise awareness in the global community about the critical mental health agendas.
Within three years, the Day had become a valuable occasion for interested government departments, organisations and committed individuals to arrange programmes to focus on aspects of mental health care.
World Mental Health Day celebrates awareness for the global community in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping people feel hopeful by empowering them to take action and create lasting change.
Professor Ivbijaro is an International Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a Fellow of the World Organization of Family Doctors, has WPA Honorary Membership, is a member of the American College of Psychiatrists, Chair of the World Dignity Project and Past President and current Secretary General & Chief Executive Officer of the World Federation for Mental Health.