Mental health is something all of us strive for—yet stigmas continue to persist for people with mental health conditions. How many of us do you think, at some point during our lives, though, will end up seeking the guidance of a therapist to bring us out of the dark and into the light? Probably a lot, right? There’s plenty in life to occasionally cause us to lose our peace of mind and take a downward turn. We all have varying degrees of mental health—life’s curve balls often knocks us for a loop!
A need for dignity
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated today as World Mental Health Day with the theme of dignity in mental health. WHO states that “effectively supporting people experiencing mental health problems is on target to become one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Stigmatising and discriminatory treatment can be particularly distressing when a person is experiencing a health crisis.”
As humans, who doesn’t want dignity? All of us do. Dignity is a human right, linked to respect, self-worth and the ability to make choices, yet, thousands of people with mental health conditions around the world, WHO says, are deprived of this human right. They not only face discrimination, but emotional and physical abuse in both mental health facilities and their communities.
Some surprising statistics close to home
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. “experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” And, NAMI says that approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 experiences a severe mental disorder; for children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.
The importance of getting treatment
Clearly, mental health is an issue that deserves our attention. Mental health disorders can also affect more than the mind. NAMI notes that “over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.” Also, people with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. “Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness,” NAMI notes, “die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.”
Marking the day
Want to note the importance of mental health with a celebration of World Mental Health Day? Here are some suggestions:
- Make a donation to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Call a family meeting to discuss the importance of mental health and the need to reach out for help, if needed
- Connect with World Mental Health Day on Facebook
- Sign up for a workshop on stress-reduction
- Have a Mental Health Begins with Me Day and do one of the below activities proven to contribute to a more positive state of mind:
2. Take a walk in nature
3. Play with a pet
4. Do a good deed for someone else
I am a strong believer that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Being free from mental disorders and disturbances and safeguarding our wellbeing allows us to live life more fully, to have healthy relationships and peace of mind and dignity, which, as WHO reminds us today, is the right of everyone.