World Mental Health Day: A Time to Check-In With Yourself
February 17, 2023
Mental illness is often viewed as a personal failing, or a lack of willpower. On World Mental Health Day, we challenge that notion, and remind everyone that mental health is a vital part of overall health. Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, gender or socio-economic status. Unfortunately, many people with mental illness don't receive the treatment they need. This needs to change. World Mental Health Day 2022 provides us with an opportunity to reconnect and revisit our efforts to protect and improve mental health for everyone.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 in 8 people globally were living with a mental disorder before the pandemic in 2019. This means that chances are you know someone who has been affected by mental illness.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened.” (World Health Organization, 2022)
Mental health is important to overall health. Untreated, they can lead to chronic physical illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes and more. Good mental health allows people to realize their abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
On the other hand, poor mental health can have a negative impact on daily life. People who are struggling mentally may have trouble keeping up with regular activities like going to class or work, taking care of personal hygiene, or managing finances, or may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death globally. According to the WHO, every year, 700.000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind.
There are many ways to improve or maintain good mental health. Just as physical activity strengthens your body, so too can mental activity strengthen your brain. Research has shown that regular mental activity throughout your lifetime can help keep your brain healthy as you age. Some ways to keep mentally active are by learning new things (such as taking a class or reading), socializing with friends and family (in person or online), playing games (such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles), and volunteering in your community.
Taking care of your physical health is also important for maintaining good mental health. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress can all help keep your mind in the right direction. If you’re struggling with a mental illness, there are many treatments and options available that can help improve your symptoms and allow you to lead a fulfilling life.
Mental health is an important issue that deserves our attention year-round, not just on World Mental Health Day. If you are struggling with your mental health, know that you are not alone and there is help available. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member or contact a professional if you need additional support. Together, we can break down the barriers to mental health care and create a more compassionate world for all.