Today is World Mental Health Day, the day recognised each year by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world and to encourage support for mental health issues. It is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy
This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is “psychological first aid” and the support people can give to those in distress.
Efforts in support of the day will focus on basic pragmatic psychological support by people who find themselves in a helping role, such as health staff, teachers, firemen, community workers, and police officers.
Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both psychological and social support. Just like general health care never consists of physical first aid alone, similarly no mental health care system should consist of psychological first aid alone. Indeed, the investment in psychological first aid is part of a longer-term effort to ensure that anyone in acute distress due to a crisis is able to receive basic support, and that those who need more than psychological first aid will receive additional advanced support from health, mental health and social services.
Depression is global "epidemic"
The World Health Organisation states, "If we don't act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally." The World Mental Health Day was first marked in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
It is hoped that marking World Mental Health Day will contribute to the goal of taking mental health out of the shadows so that people in general feel more confident in tackling the stigma, isolation and discrimination that continues to plague people with mental health conditions, their families and carers.