The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that this year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the coronavirus.
World Mental Health Day
It is said that the day is aimed at creating public awareness to make issues related to mental health a global priority as close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder. Efforts are also aimed at attracting investment support to improve treatment of mental health conditions.
“The past months have brought many challenges,” writes the WHO. “For health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; for the vast number of people caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. And this is to say nothing of managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye.”
It is said that the economic consequences of the pandemic are already being felt, as companies let staff go in an effort to save their businesses, or indeed shut down completely. In fact, the results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2020 indicated that the number of employed persons decreased by 2.2 million to 14.1 million compared to the first quarter of 2020 in South Africa.
That’s why the WHO says it expects that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been. And this is why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is increased investment in mental health.
A special event
On World Mental Health Day, 10 October, the WHO will, for the first time ever, host a global online advocacy event on mental health.
At this event – the Big Event for Mental Health – world leaders, mental health experts and celebrity guests will join WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to tell the world what we can all do to improve our mental health and how we can help make sure that quality mental health care is available to everyone who needs it.
This event will be streamed live on the WHO’s major social media channels.
Mental health in South Africa
Meanwhile, in South Africa, the SA Federation for Mental Health is calling on the government to invest in quality services and protect people’s right to good mental health. They’ve also collaborated with United for Global Mental Health to produce a concise South African mental health country profile, outlining an array of unique factors, trends and challenges that impact on mental health. This will be released in a series. Read more over here.
They are also participating in the United for Global Mental Health: The 24-hour March for Mental Health. On 9 October, people from around the world will be encouraged to participate in a virtual march. A 24-hour livestream will feature people with lived experience, mental health leaders and influencers from the civil society groups already active in 19 countries through the Speak Your Mind campaign.