We all know what mental health problems are and how to spread awareness among the people to tackle these challenges. There are thousands of government-backed programs, TV shows, books, social media posts, and videos that support the mental health peace of the individual. But do we care about it? Do we personally care about our emotional and mental well-being? Aren’t we? Think about it!
As every year, the World Mental Health Day 2021 will be observed on October 10. The motive behind observing Mental Health Day is to encourage people to step up against mental health challenges and spread awareness about this problem. This year the World Mental Health Day will be marked with the theme of– ‘Mental Health In An Unequal World’. In order to access mental health across all parts of society, this year’s theme aims to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich, both locally and globally. The theme was mutually decided by governments from all over the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes at a time when the pandemic has exposed mental health problems, providing disappointing pictures worldwide that how we failed to tackle the challenges of mental peace and services to establish a better mental health environment. The pandemic is also highlighting the additional mental health challenges such as health inequalities, illness, job loss, isolation, financial burden, and many more.
Pandemic’s Gravely Impacted the Mental Health
According to the Lancet medical journal report, an additional 53 million people from all over the world reported depressive and anxiety disorders symptoms in 2020. The report estimated an additional 76·2 million (64·3 to 90·6) cases of anxiety disorders globally
Kaiser Family Foundation, a California-based NGO that collects data on health issues in the US, states in its report that about 4 in 10 adults in the country have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. According to the report, more than 40% of the country’s total adult population has experienced mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report further added that more than 55% of young adults aged, between 18-24 years, reported anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms.
The global shortfall in investment in mental health
The World Health Organization (WHO) says in its report that leadership and governance are not effectively working for mental health. According to WHO, only 52% of 194 Member States met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programs, also well below the 80% target. It means that almost half of the world is not serious about the mental health crisis.
The report, however, says that the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around 2%.
“It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
World Mental Health Day 2021 is crucial
In the view of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on millions of people’s mental health globally, the theme of World Mental Health Day 2021 was decided as ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. Access to mental health support has become crucial as the pandemic has impacted every aspect of life. The pandemic has led to an increase in mental health crises, particularly among health workers and children.
The 2021 World Mental Health Day theme says that it’s time to play an active role in supporting civil societies in terms of tackling the mental health challenges—globally and locally. Through the campaign, we all have to encourage researchers and experts to share what they know about mental health inequality including practical ideas about how to tackle this.
A brief history of mental illness and World Mental Health Day
The mental health crisis is one of the great challenges of our time and it has an impact on a large part of the population, but it is not a new phenomenon. It’s an age-old disease in humans.
According to the Unite For Sight NGO, a trusted global health solution, mental illness was first categorized as a religious or personal problem during the ancient Egyptian, Indian, and Greek eras. While in the 5th century B.C, it was realized that mentally ill people can be treated when a Greek physician Hippocrates started treating mentally ill people with techniques not rooted in religion or superstition.
However, in the 18th century, the moral treatment for mentally ill people began in Europe and then in the United States in the early 19th century.
With no specific theme, the first World Mental Health Day was observed on 10 October 1992 to promote mental health advocacy and educating the public on relevant issues. In 1994, it was observed with the theme “Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World,” suggested by then Secretary-General of World Federation for Mental Health Eugene Brody.