Every year, on October 10th, the world comes together to observe World Mental Health Day. This day serves as a vital reminder of the importance of mental health and the need to break the stigma surrounding it. In a world where the challenges and stressors of daily life can often take a toll on our mental well-being, it's crucial to prioritise mental health. This year, more than ever, we must emphasise the significance of mental health in our lives, communities, and societies at large.
The Global Mental Health Crisis:
Before delving into the theme of this year's World Mental Health Day, let's take a moment to acknowledge the global mental health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has brought about a surge in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other mental health issues. Lockdowns, social isolation, and uncertainty about the future have taken a toll on people's mental well-being and although we are over the pandemic we aren't over the mental health epidemic.
The 2023 Theme: "Mental health is a universal human right"
The theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health encourages us to recognise that there are harmful barriers to good mental health that still exist in our homes, schools, and workplaces. This World Mental Health Day everyone is encouraged to join by pledging to protect, promote, and respect mental health in our communities. Walk the walk every day by caring for your own mental health, and helping others do the same.
Previous reports by the UN Human Rights office highlight that people with mental health conditions and those with psychosocial disabilities experience disproportionately higher rates of poor physical health and reduced life expectancy. Stigma is also a significant determinant of quality care and access to the full range of services required.
Discrimination, harmful stereotypes and stigma in the community, family, schools and the workplace prevent healthy relationships, social interactions and the inclusive environments needed for the well-being of all members of society.
Mental health is a universal right to all citizens of the world.
Mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community.
Having a mental health condition should never be a reason to deprive a person of their human rights or to exclude them from decisions about their own health. Yet all over the world, people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations. Many are excluded from community life and discriminated against, while many more cannot access the mental health care they need or can only access care that violates their human rights.
If you are someone reading this or know of someone who has experienced a human rights violation or has bravely taken steps to seek professional help for mental health and been mistreated, felt unseen, unheard and didn't receive the ethical professional support and guidance you deserved, I'm deeply sorry. I'm sorry if the system has failed you not once but many times. Please understand that there are professionals out there who do want to support and guide you in the right direction and due to these experiences I understand it can make it more complex to trust the process and to believe that you can get the right support.
I too have been failed by the system many times, I've been dismissed, shut down, felt unheard and sat in a cold scary clinical room whilst a 'professional' has lacked empathy and stared at the clock on the wall and I've had tears streaming down my face in deep pain. These kind of personal experiences that I know many others will relate to, have allowed me to have a deeper sense of warmth, empathy and compassion for my clients and individuals that I get to work alongside. You shouldn't have to fight for your story or voice to be heard and it makes me angry that it is this way.
With today being World Mental Health Day I pledge to spread mental health awareness and promote positive mental health on my social media for overall improved well-being for all as no one should feel limited to accessing mental health support.
I understand the importance of addressing mental health issues and reducing the stigma associated with them. I commit to:
Educating myself: I believe to be an effective Counsellor, I need to constantly strive to increase my self-awareness and learning. I will continuously educate myself about mental health, including the various conditions, treatments, and resources available.
Sharing knowledge: I will continue to share accurate and helpful information about mental health on my social media platforms, here on my blog, with my friends, family, and community to raise awareness and reduce misconceptions.
Listening and supporting: I will be an empathetic and non-judgmental listener to those who need to talk about their mental health concerns. I will encourage them to seek professional help when necessary and guide those in the right direction when they are unsure on how to find support.
Promoting self-care: I will encourage self-care practices that promote positive mental health, such as exercise, mindfulness, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Advocating for policy changes: I will support policies and initiatives that improve access to mental health services, reduce discrimination, and increase funding for mental health research and treatment. Such as Mind who are currently petitioning for the UK government to reform the mental health act. You can sign the petition here.
Challenging stigma: I will actively challenge and speak out against the stigmatisation of mental health issues in my community and online.
Leading by example: I will be a role model to my clients, friends, family and community by practising what I preach. I will prioritise my own mental health and well-being, recognising that self-care is essential to effectively supporting others.
This World Mental Health Day, let's commit to make it right -"Mental health is a universal human right" and break down the stigma surrounding mental health. By fostering open and supportive conversations, we can create a world where everyone feels safe and empowered to prioritise their mental well-being. Remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and together, we can make a positive change in the lives of individuals and communities around the world.
Taking the first step towards therapy can be daunting, but remember, it's also an act of self-care and courage. The Flawed Journey provides a FREE 30 Minute Consultation which can be the first step of the journey towards healing, understanding, and self-discovery.
If you need 24/7 mental health support right now, please check out 24/7 support helplines here and call a support service near you. If you think your life or someone else’s is at immediate risk, call your local emergency services.