World mental health day

Never has our mental health been more important. That’s one of the headline messages from World Mental Health Day which took place on 10th October. It’s a key date in the mental health calendar and is one which we have commented on before as it helps to raise awareness and encourage discussion on mental health issues.

For example in 2016 we highlighted the Bank of England’s release of a video in which its people spoke out to help end the stigma surrounding mental health issues. And in 2018 we looked at the importance of helping young people to build mental resilience which would stand them in good stead throughout their lives. In that article we touched on key trigger points such as bereavement, problems at work or in relationships, or money worries. Those trigger points haven’t gone away but they have been amplified by the effect which Covid is having on all our lives.

It’s not just the worry of catching Covid or seeing a loved one suffer or even die from it that has the potential to affect us. There is also the day to day effect on jobs, on living with restrictions and lock downs, on not being able to socialise as before. Mankind is a social animal and the physical isolation which comes from distancing adds another layer of stress to an already stressful scenario. And that’s before you add in the uncertainty of not knowing how the disease is progressing and which way the numbers are moving.

That’s why organisers of this year’s mental health day say that never has our mental health been more important. And that’s why they call for greater investment and greater access; ensuring that help is available for everyone in these unprecedented times. As Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization stated: “The world is accepting the concept of universal health coverage. Mental health must be an integral part of UHC. Nobody should be denied access to mental health care because she or he is poor or lives in a remote place.”

But in these unprecedented times there are also steps which each one of us can take with regard to our own mental wellbeing. The mental health charity, Mind, has issued a challenge to everyone to “do one thing for better mental health.” That could be to simply go for a walk or do something creative. It could be to post a social media update or link which promotes mental well being. Or it could be to take the first step in asking for help. And that help can take many forms; from simply talking with someone to finding ways to cut down on or share workloads.

Whatever the steps taken it is important to continue the message that mental well being affects everyone at some stage in their lives. It shouldn’t be something which we are ashamed of and we should be open to the fact that we can all have good days and bad days and that unexpected triggers can affect us. That applies equally whether we are in the health sector or any other line of work.