World Mental Health Day 2023: Promoting Universal Mental Health Rights

World Mental Health Day, celebrated by the World Health Organization (WHO), serves as an annual occasion to raise awareness about mental health and its profound impact on people’s lives. It centers around fostering an understanding of mental well-being, enabling individuals to effectively manage life’s challenges, realize their potential, excel academically and professionally, and contribute positively to their communities.

This globally recognized day falls on the 10th of October and aims to stimulate awareness, ignite social action, and encourage discussions on mental health issues.

The Genesis of World Mental Health Day
Major international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have increasingly recognized the pivotal role of mental health in achieving global goals. According to WHO, depression ranks among the leading causes of disability, and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29. Hence, the necessity of dedicating a day to evaluate progress, make informed decisions, and take proactive steps to enhance mental health worldwide.

World Mental Health Day was first observed on October 10, 1992, under the auspices of the World Federation For Mental Health, a global organization comprising over 150 member nations. The honor goes to Deputy Secretary-General Richard Hunter. In 1994, the inaugural celebration featured the theme ‘Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World.’ Since then, subsequent themes have continuously elevated the discourse surrounding mental health.

The Theme for World Mental Health Day 2023
For the year 2023, the World Health Organization has chosen the theme “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right.” This theme underscores the importance of creating awareness and taking actions that uphold and protect everyone’s mental health as an inherent human right.

While it may go unnoticed by many, mental health is a fundamental human right accessible to all individuals, regardless of their social standing. This includes the right to protection from mental health risks, access to available, acceptable, and high-quality care, and the right to liberty, independence, and inclusion in society’s various strata.

The importance of robust mental health extends beyond personal well-being; it ripples throughout society’s human capital. As mental health issues increasingly affect a significant portion of society, those in this spectrum become more vulnerable to human rights violations, which, in turn, exacerbate mental health conditions. Hence, World Mental Health Day serves as an annual reminder of the need for equitable access to mental health care services.

World Mental Health Day vs. Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness Week, which spans from the 15th to the 21st of May annually, complements World Mental Health Day. It provides advocates with an opportunity to focus on promoting good mental health, rallying individuals to speak out in favor of mental health care’s value. This week-long campaign includes various activities aimed at enhancing public understanding of mental health and the prevention of mental health problems.

On the other hand, World Mental Health Day is a global event observed on a single day each year. It brings together stakeholders from various sectors to assess mental health efforts from the past year and collaboratively formulate pragmatic actions to strengthen mental health care systems.

Supporting World Mental Health Day 2023
Supporting World Mental Health Day can take several forms:

Volunteer or donate to mental health organizations to champion their cause.
Use social media to voice your thoughts on mental health concerns in your local community, using the hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay.
Foster a mentally safe working environment within your institution.
Prioritizing mental health care at all levels of society is imperative. We must engage in open discussions about mental health more frequently and create an environment conducive to establishing robust mental health care systems. Innovation in mental health care must be valued, and collaborations and partnerships that champion this cause should be cultivated.

Global development organizations should continue collaborating with community-based organizations to ensure that mental health is not only valued and promoted but also protected. Urgent action is essential to ensure that everyone can exercise their human right to access quality mental health care. Together, we can make progress for mental health and work toward a more mentally healthy world.