World Mental Health Day 2020 is the most important one yet. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is ‘mental health for all’.
This Mental Health Day comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past months have brought many challenges: for health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; for the vast number of people caught in poverty or in fragile humanitarian settings with extremely limited protection from COVID-19; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. And this is to say nothing of managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye.
The economic consequences of the pandemic are already being felt, as companies let staff go in an effort to save their businesses, or indeed shut down completely.
Given past experience of emergencies, it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.
This year has been a tough one for us all. The months of lockdown and loss have had a huge impact on our mental health.
According to our research, with over 16,000 people, we know that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health got worse during lockdown. We know that many have developed new mental health problems as a result of the pandemic and, for some of us, existing mental health problems have gotten worse.
Making positive change can seem so hard, especially during uncertain times. And sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you want to take the first steps towards getting some help or learn more about helping others around you.
Whether it’s going for a walk, learning a new skill or doing something creative, taking the first steps to getting support for yourself, or reaching out to someone else; take the opportunity to do one thing this World Mental Health Day.