Today is World Mental Health Day. The World Federation for Mental Health initiated the first World Mental Health Day back in 1992 and it’s been going strong ever since. The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is Dignity in Mental Health.
There’s a handy document at the World Federation’s site for those who want to delve a bit deeper. This document has been well planned and covers a broad range of issues relevant to the theme of dignity in mental health. There are first person narratives on experiences of mental illness, a mental health first aid action plan from Australia as well as a look at how dignity can be achieved in organisations, health sectors and in public health messages.
World Mental Health Day has taken on a life of its own and its great to see how organisations as well as people struggling with mental illness are able to rally around this day while sharing their own stories or offering advice and insights.
The World Health Organisation has a high profile campaign as we would expect from an organisation of this gravitas. Many high profile figures have also supported this day, helping to bring a much wider awareness.
The King’s Fund has released an alternative guide to mental health to coincide with World Mental Health Day
and the inimitable Stephen Fry has teamed up with Think Ahead to support the much needed recruitment of mental health social workers.
Before I finish I thought I might add a few points of my own. I see things through the ‘illness lens’. I am interested in helping people to diagnosis, overcome, recover from or manage illness. After all that’s why people see psychiatrists. There are many different mental illnesses. People have vastly differing experiences of mental illness. For this reason it is difficult for me to draw any broad conclusions about dignity in mental health.
Perhaps we should focus on very specific issues. Maybe we should measure progress as well. After all that’s how many things tend to be done well. World Mental Health Day could be the first of 365 days to make big changes. Each of us could advance this agenda. Even those with little or no experience can use an approach such as the Australian Mental Health First Aid action plan.
One thing though is very clear to me. As I write this in the last few hours of World Mental Health Day I am pleasantly surprised to see that there has already been a big conversation about this today. This conversation is already evidence of mental health being treated with dignity by the global community.
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