World Mental Health Day

Mental health requires a commitment from the entire community. The aftermath of the pandemic threatens people's daily well-being.
World Mental Health Day
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 22 October, 2022

Why is it still so difficult for us to talk about our emotions and discomfort? Why is it that before going for a consultation with a mental health professional, we take a thousand detours? In many cases, talking about mental health is still taboo. Since October 10 was World Mental Health Day, let’s talk about it.

The slogan chosen for this year by the World Health Organization (WHO) was “Making mental health and well-being for all a global priority.” It seeks to highlight the impact that mental health has on people’s quality of life, as it clearly interferes with their well-being and development.

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Why a World Mental Health Day?

The day warns about the need to allocate a budget to address mental health, with public policies and programs that focus on promotion and prevention. That’s why new measures are required that appeal to the creativity and commitment of professionals but also of the community in general.

This slogan is also very intentional. It invites us to remember that not all people have the resources to enjoy optimal mental health. Moreover, optimal mental health is a human right.

Difficulties in access, living conditions, conditioning factors, and social and cultural stereotypes act as obstacles when seeking help from a professional. This is whu millions of people, according to the latest study published by the WHO, suffer in silence.

On the other hand, it’s important to clarify that although there’s a “common basis” for mental health, it’s also a subjective experience. For example, the experience of suffering is not the same for everyone. That’s why we need to be respectful and validate the emotions that others feel.

Similarly, it’s important to broaden our horizens. Many people equate mental health with disorders or diseases. Thus, they underestimate discomfort and normalize situations that are no less complex but are no less significant or have no impact.

In this sense, just as the concept of health was rethought some time ago, mental health isn’t just about the absence of disease. It’s also well-being, self-esteem, and enjoyment.

Happiness on world mental health day
Happiness and well-being are intrinsic parts of mental health, which is about so much more than just conditions or diseases. 

How can we help make the importance of mental health more visible?

There are many ways to be aware of the importance of mental health in our lives and to help others do so, too. Some of them are the following.

Make mental health more visible

First of all, talk about it. Give it importance and a space of its own, just as we do with other aspects of our lives.

Encouraging people to express themselves and ask for help is a way of making mental health more commonplace and moving it away from the reductionist view that associates it with stigma, madness, confinement, or “the madhouse.”

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Get active

Health must be understood as a whole. Therefore, we must preserve the mind and state of mind, as well as the body.

Physical activity, whatever our preference for it may be, allows us to have a moment of recreation and relaxation. At the same time, it produces the so-called wellness hormones.

Set aside space and time for self-care

It’s important that we have time and space to get to know ourselves and to rest. Sometimes we achieve this by taking refuge in a book; other times, it’s by leaving the cell phone on silent and disconnecting from its notifications.

Self-care also goes hand in hand with self-knowledge and turning our gaze inward. During this important time we dedicate to ourselves, we can also develop hobbies.

Avoid judgment

It’s critical to avoid judging both yourself and others. If you don’t know each person’s particular situation, avoid commenting on it.

Instead, show empathy and keep an open ear. Avoid labeling people as “psychotic” or “crazy” and instead recognize people who are experiencing the condition psychosis or people who are expeiricing panic attacks. Remember: it’s an experience and not a part of their identity.

gossip and lies
Talking about others with contempt is a lack of empathy that affects us all because we focus too much on the lives of others and not our own.

We’re not just talking about mental illness on World Mental Health Day

Mental health should also be conceptualized from the positive and by taking into account the many resources ta=hat we have. It’s so much more than “not being ill.” It’s also not just about the obvious conditions, such as a panic attack or a psychotic breakdown.

Today, our mental health is threatened on a daily basis due to the particular conditions of each country, socioeconomic inequality, war, conflicts, and violence. On World Mental Health Day, we should know that it’s a permanent effort to ensure that all human beings have the conditions in which they can experience good mental health.

All people are vulnerable and have problems. It’s also important to highlight that therapy is not just for those with uncomfortable or noticeable problems but also for anyone who’s looking to improve their mental health.  Therefore, we must provide resources and opportunities so that everyone can enjoy this basic human right.

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  • Restrepo, D. A., & Jaramillo, J. C. (2012). Concepciones de salud mental en el campo de la salud pública. Revista Facultad Nacional de Salud Pública, 30(2), 202-211.
  • Greco, C. (2010). Las emociones positivas: su importancia en el marco de la promoción de la salud mental en la infancia. Liberabit, 16(1), 81-93.

The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.