October 10 is World Mental Health Day. It is a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy to fight social stigma. World Mental Health Day was first observed in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a global mental health organization “founded in 1948 to advance, among all peoples and nations, the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health.”
This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. The WFMH wants to bring attention “to the issues our youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient.”
Epidemic of Anguish
According to the World Health Organization, “half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to risky behaviors such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Eating disorders are also of concern.”
Rapper Choze Powell wants to help celebrate World Mental Health Day with his new song about depression and bullying.
With “Hold On,” Choze wants to inspire hope for those who suffer from mental illnesses. Depression, and suicidal thoughts brought on by bullying are becoming increasingly common among today’s teens.
In her 2017 book iGen, psychology professor Jean Twenge, warns that “iGen’ers”—the generation born after 1995—“are at the forefront of the worst mental health crisis in decades, with rates of teen depression and suicide skyrocketing since 2011.” For this “epidemic of anguish,” Twenge primarily blames “the complete dominance of the smartphone among teens” which has resulted in widespread stress, anxiety, and lack of healthy face-to-face interactions.
Fortunately, much can be done to help build mental resilience from an early age to help prevent mental distress and illness among adolescents and young adults, and to manage and recover from mental illness.
How You Can Help
There are many ways to advocate for mental health. Local advocacy is just as important as global outreach and to build an effective movement, we need many voices to be heard.
- Learn about the challenges of mental health: The mind and mental health issues are complex and it is not always easy to know what to do. The best way to start is to learn some facts.
- Become active in your community: You can accomplish a lot by being vocal in your community. There’s still significant social stigma and shame surrounding mental health conditions and one way to overcome that is to openly talk about them.
- Speak out on social media: they can have enormous reach and are a great way to connect with advocates and local champions. Use hashtags like #worldmentalhealthday and #mentalhealth when posting and connect with people, organizations and resources.
If we all come together, our voices will be heard in all corners of the world.