Mental health awareness takes center stage in global initiative

World Today

Global mental healthImage by Man vyi from Flickr.

October 10 marks a global awareness of the importance of mental health and breaking the stigma in an effort to alleviate the pain of mental disorders.

World Mental Health Day, which is observed every year, “provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO’s work on studying mental health in emergencies is particularly timely, given the international focus on the influx of refugees stemming from conflicts in the Middle East.

U.N. estimates show that there are more than 2.9 million Syrian refugees currently being hosted by their neighbors in the Middle East. For Syria specifically, the WHO estimates that around 600,000 Syrians are “suffering from severe mental health disorders and another 4 million from mild to moderate mental disorders.”

The aim of World Mental Health Day is to take away any stigma attached to admitting, seeking help for, or having a mental health disorder.

Part of the effort behind the initiative is to increase mental health resources.

“In emergencies, whether they be a result of conflict or natural disaster, the needs for mental health care increase with every day that goes by,” WHO Public Mental Health Adviser Mark van Ommeren said.

“Yet in these situations, access to care for treating mental disorders is usually extremely limited.”

World Mental Health Day is not the first global initiative centered on the importance of social and cultural support for mental health.

The World Happiness Report, which was first published in 2012 measures the “scientific underpinnings of measuring and understanding subjective well-being.”

The report considered GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.

Denmark ranked first in the World Happiness Report, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway. The United States came in 13th on the list, China was 83, while countries who ranked the lowest worldwide were Afghanistan, Togo, Syria, and Burundi.

Professor Swaran Singh on World Mental Health Day

To discuss World Mental Health Day and the stigma surrounding mental illness and wellness, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke to Professor Swaran Singh, an expert in in global mental health.