World Mental Health Day is held on 10 October to raise awareness of the critical need to invest in mental health
By the editorial team – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and is a fundamental human right. Good overall health therefore requires, as the ancients said, a healthy mind in a healthy body, i.e. physical health and mental health. Yet when it comes to mental health care, we are now clearly lagging behind.
World Mental Health Day is commemorated on 10 October to raise awareness of mental health across the world and to garner support for those who are experiencing mental health issues.
In 2019, it was estimated that one in eight people worldwide were living with a mental disorder. The events of recent years, with pandemics, wars and forced displacement, an increase in social inequalities and the growing pressure of climate change, have pushed our mental health even further to the limit.
In the first year of the pandemic alone, there was an estimated 25% increase in cases of anxiety disorders and depression.
At the same time, this pressing need is not matched by the services or the human and financial resources to address it. According to the WHO itself, “available services, capacities and funding for mental health remain scarce and fall far short of what is needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries”. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on people’s mental health, while severely disrupting mental health services and widening the treatment gap between mental and other health conditions.
Stigma, a barrier to social integration and access to care
In recent years, mental health issues have been granted a more prominent place in the political agenda and awareness-raising initiatives have been widespread. Yet, the stigma associated with mental health disorders continues to weigh heavily on these efforts. That is why, it is so important not to throw up our hands, and to continue addressing mental health-related stigma on days like today.
Stigma makes it much more difficult for people to recognize their difficulties, to seek treatment and support, and to normalize the situation with their family and friends and at work.
A global priority
This year, the United Nations has launched a campaign on the theme “Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority”. As in many other areas, this is a matter of political priorities and it is therefore necessary to demand that policy makers put this issue on their agendas, ensure that it is adequately funded and that they work to ensure that everyone has access to the mental health services they need.
As a staunch advocate of mental health promotion, the WHO recently published the “World Mental Health Report: Transforming mental health for all” which presents the latest available data, examples of good practice and points to where change are most needed and how best to do it. As individuals, communities, governments and other stakeholders, we should also improve our commitment to mental health through more engagement and investment across all sectors of society.
Dianova and mental health
One of Dianova’s areas of work is health and dependences. As such, we work both on the ground and at the advocacy level on mental health issues. Dianova calls for a better integration of mental health services in health, social and community services and a better consideration of substance use disorders in this field.
All members of the Dianova Network have long been confronted with mental health issues, either in the context of dual pathology care (presence of substance use disorders and psychiatric disorders), or in the broader context of helping people in vulnerable situations, who are often confronted with psychological difficulties related to their situation (anxiety or depression among homeless people and women victims of violence, etc.)
Example of specialized services implemented by the Dianova network:
- Novasalud (Chile): Specialized multidisciplinary services in mental health and addiction
- Chanaes centre (Uruguay), residential services for people with a dual pathology
At the advocacy and communication level, in 2021, for example, Dianova was a member and participated in several events of the New York NGO Committee on Mental Health, it also participated in WHO meetings on the integration of mental health in public health emergency responses. Finally, Dianova representatives participated as speakers at the CAS Trips “Wellness and Health” conference and were invited to a Hackathon activity dedicated to presenting innovative projects designed by students aged 14 to 18.
Dianova has published several articles and statements on mental health. To highlight a few from the last year:
- Mental health and climate changes: statement to the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
- Climate change, COVID and mental health: a look at the climate crisis and mental health in the time of a pandemic
- Mental health care in Europe: published on the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2021
- “It is important to keep an open mind towards mental health work“: interview with Barbara L. Ponieman, Psychiatrist in New York
Lastly, Dianova released a series of videos to promote mental health in times of pandemic on issues such as anxiety, social phobia and screen addiction, panic attacks and substance use disorders. This social media campaign aimed to promote better access to mental health services and address stigma.
Dianova aligns itself with the WHO campaign and we reiterate that mental health should be a global priority!