This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, with World Mental Health Day recognized on October 10, 2020. This year’s campaign is called Move for Mental Health: Let’s Invest.
This campaign emphasizes that not only should we spread awareness of the importance of mental health, but that we have to take actionable steps to invest in mental health services. We can all see in our own lives that the pandemic is causing some people’s mental health to suffer severely. For World Mental Health Day this year, let’s all recognize how important it is to invest in mental health, educate ourselves on mental illness, and make getting help easier for people who are struggling.
It is essential that leaders and people of influence step up to initiate change. Our workplaces need to go further to accommodate and prioritize workers’ mental health. We need to embrace dialogue on sensitive issues. We need to offer resources to make people feel comfortable enough to seek help, and we need to take advantage of these resources when we are in need.
Activate Care views World Mental Health Day as a call to action for community, state, and federal leaders to develop plans to invest in mental health and provide accessible care that so many people need. There’s a return of four dollars in the United States for every one dollar invested in scaled-up mental health care. If we don’t take action, the World Health Organization predicts that the global economy will suffer a $16 trillion loss between 2010 and 2030. We simply cannot fail to address mental health appropriately and effectively.
Actions to Take to Improve Mental Health
- In healthcare systems, healthcare workers should be trained on identifying symptoms of mental illness and intervening accordingly, and checking in on those with diagnosed disorders. A good place for healthcare workers to start is this informative video on spotting the signs of suicide, from the WHO.
- In our democracy, we all need to advocate for the passage of actionable mental health legislation and the investment in making mental health care accessible through both online and inpatient/outpatient services. Investing now will ease the inevitable economic, social, and health consequences later on, as explained in this United Nations policy brief on COVID-19 and the need for action on mental health.
- Encourage educated dialogue around mental health, both in your community and workplace. It’s on all of us to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness by talking about it the same as one would a physical health issue, because total health is defined by one’s physical, mental, and behavioral health.
Mental Health: An Issue the Whole World Over
According to the World Health Organization, upwards of 75% of people with mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorders do not receive adequate care. This can be due to the lack of affordable mental health care, the stigma surrounding seeking help, or a shortage of services, to name a few obstacles.
Social isolation, fear, and economic instability are some factors that often exacerbate an existing mental illness or trigger one to develop. These side effects of COVID-19 will be long-lasting, prompting many of us to wonder if it’s only going to get worse from this point. Contributing to the lack of mental healthcare access is the fact that many mental health care facilities have also been converted to COVID care facilities. You can read more about the impact of COVID-19 on the availability of mental, neurological, and substance use services in 130 countries in this report from the World Health Organization.
We are living in a time where accessible care is essential for all aspects of health. The data shows that investment in mental health care will only help the world, and it’s clear how desperately people need it. Let’s take action to address this need in the ways that we can, and continue to spread awareness and education on the importance of mental health.
Homelessness is a significant social determinant of health, including mental health, that is only worsening due to the pandemic. Watch our recorded webinar on Strategies for Digital Success in the Fight to End Homelessness.