World Mental Health Day, a programme of the World Federation for Mental Health, was observed for the first time on 10 October 1992.
This year has been a rollercoaster of emotions, we delve deep into many challenges we faced: from health-care to adapting to taking classes from home.
The world is experiencing the unprecedented impact of the current global health emergency due to COVID-19 that has also impacted on the mental health of millions of people. We know that the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions.
The current worldwide pandemic arose against an already dire mental health landscape that saw mental health conditions on the rise across the globe. About 450 million people live with mental disorders that are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide (WHO’s World Health Report, 2001). One person in every four will be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives while mental, neurological and substance use disorders exact a high toll on health outcomes, accounting for 13% of the total global burden of disease (WHO, 2012). The World Health Organization (2018) states that every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide. Annually, this represents over 800 000 people that die by suicide, which is more than people dying by war and homicide put together. For every suicide, there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to
29-year-olds while 79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting and devastating effects on the people left behind.
This bleak picture necessitates that we ensure that mental health is prioritised now more than ever before.
The World Economic Forum (2018) noted that mental health disorders are on the rise in every country in the world and could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 if a collective failure to respond is not addressed. We are faced with an international mental health crisis.
Together we are stronger and together we can make a big difference all over the world. World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness in the global community about the critical mental health agendas – with a unifying voice through collaboration with various partners – to take action and to create lasting change through the messages we promote.
We are all in this together and together we can bring about mental health for all.