World Mental Health Day is an international day dedicated to global mental health education, awareness, and social stigma reduction. It was established in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in over 150 countries.
1. What is the Date of World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day is on October 10, and as our understanding of mental health expands, so do we. Since the early 1990s, when the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) officially established the day, mental health has come a long way. Our increased self-awareness and sensitivity to it has improved things. Our language around mental health has improved as words like "crazy" and "lunatic" are used less casually and we learn that they can be inadvertently hurtful and stigmatizing. While we've learned a lot, there's still so much more we can do as a society to evolve.
2. World Mental Health Day History
The first World Mental Health Day was observed on October 10, 1992, at the initiative of Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter. Until 1994, the day had no specific theme other than to promote mental health advocacy and public education.
At the suggestion of then-Secretary General Eugene Brody, World Mental Health Day was first observed with a theme in 1994. The theme was "Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services Worldwide."
WHO supports World Mental Health Day by raising awareness about mental health issues through its strong relationships with health ministries and civil society organizations around the world. WHO also assists in the development of technical and communication materials.
On World Mental Health Day 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Jackie Doyle-Price as the United Kingdom's first minister for suicide prevention. This happened during the government's first-ever global mental health summit.
3. World Mental Health Day Activities
Do group therapy in the workplace
Sign up for a group therapy workshop at your workplace. This can give you and your coworkers a safe space to express yourselves. We tend to believe that pushing through and carrying on is the best way, but problems can arise unexpectedly if they are not properly addressed.
There are numerous changes you can make in your life that will last beyond World Mental Health Day. Creating a regular sleep routine, changing your diet to healthier options, taking lunch breaks, and going on long walks are just a few ideas. The goal of self-care is to identify your unique requirements. Take the time to ask yourself what you want and then go after it.
Follow the theme
Each year, a new theme is introduced, and even if it does not directly relate to your problems, you can still learn from it. Spend some time researching the topic. Beyond yourself, awareness can provide you with the tools you need to better understand others.
Educate and communicate
The first step toward creating a more positive mental health culture in our society is raising awareness. For your employees, this means not only raising awareness of the importance of World Mental Health Day across all internal channels, but also ensuring they understand how to easily access any support and resources available, without fear of judgment.
This could include ensuring that internal processes, such as Employee Assistance Programs or Employee Resource Groups, are clearly marked, as well as highlighting any other internal or external options that can provide additional wellbeing support.
People in the United Kingdom often joke that a good cup of tea can cure many of the world's ills. While science doesn't exactly back this up, the act of intentionally making time to connect with a colleague over a brew, real or virtual, can be immensely restorative and offer vital support (the tea, however, should be real - you can't sip a virtual brew!). Investing in these informal social connections is one of the pillars of establishing a positive mental health culture.
Nurture mind and body
Many of us at work have faced new stressors in the last few months. A short mindfulness or inclusive fitness activity that encourages everyone to take a break from their to-do lists and refocus can help alleviate this feeling. Mindfulness is especially beneficial for breaking unhelpful thought patterns, and a fitness class can help boost self-esteem while decreasing stress levels.
Learn and grow
Knowledge is power, and one of the most effective ways to raise mental health awareness is through education and sharing what we know. With this year's theme focusing on making mental health accessible to all, a virtual lunch and learn session exploring the barriers to mental wellbeing will help raise awareness - and possibly spark some good ideas. We tuned in for the World Health Organization's Big Event for Mental Health last year, and a recording of this epic and moving event is still available for viewing.
Sometimes we all need to look at things from a different angle. Bringing in a guest speaker to share their experience with mental health will not only start an important conversation, but it may also empower your employees to ask questions or seek their own help. Workshops, seminars, and training can also help equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to better support not only their own mental health, but also the mental health of those around them.
Contribute to a cause
This year's World Mental Health Day theme is mental health parity, which means ensuring that everyone, regardless of socioeconomic background or geographical location, has access to mental health support. There are so many underserved causes that promote mental health all over the world, so choose one (or more!) that resonates with everyone and give back.
According to research, recognition is a key driver of workplace mental health. When we feel valued for our contributions at work, it improves our mental health. Whether it's praising a colleague's hard work on a recent project or simply thanking them for being themselves, make sure to recognize people's contributions and spread a little joy.
Start a conversation
Mental health is a spectrum, and raising awareness of it requires all of us to do our part by talking about it openly and without prejudice or stigma. Use some of our free resources across your social media platforms and email signatures to start the conversation and be a part of the change.
4. World Mental Health Day Quotes
“Health does not always come from medicine. Most of the time. It comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart, peace in the soul. It comes from laughter and love.”
“Taking care of our mental health is the smart thing to do”
“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” – Adam Ant
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore
“This feeling will pass. The fear is real but the danger is not.”― Cammie McGovern