THIS OCTOBER: WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY & NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH WEEK
Annually, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) organizes the celebration of World Mental Health Day (WMHD). This event recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) takes place every 10th of October. The main aim of this globally observed celebration is to bring awareness to and raise support for mental health.
The theme declared by the WFMH for this year is “Mental Health in an Unequal World” as echoed by WHO’s 2021 campaign slogan “mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.”
This theme was undoubtedly picked with our current circumstance in mind. During such trying times living under the COVID-19 pandemic, paying attention to our mental health and how to take care of it is as important now more than ever. Such a global crisis has further subjected people to isolating and distressing situations. As WFMH Secretary General Gabriel Ivbijaro MBE JP put it, “2020 highlighted inequalities due to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and the lack of respect for human rights in many countries, including for people living with mental health conditions.”
For those who have the means, it was all the more easier to quarantine and to live through this period. For those who have the resources and services available to them, attending to their mental health was all the more possible.
Each and every one of us has mental health. As Program Manager of Mental Health at Misericordia Community Hospital, Stan Preston stated in a 2019 piece on The Vital Beat, “[e]veryone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. Not everyone will experience mental illness, but everyone will have periods of time when they struggle with their mental well-being, just as we have physical health issues from time to time”. This is why mental health resources need to be made available to all and if there’s one thing this pandemic has further revealed to us, it is that we are in need of better health care all around.
In the Philippines, National Mental Health Week is observed every second week of October. Initiatives such as this and WMHD are important in the continuing efforts to raise both awareness and support for such a stigmatized component of our health.
What we must remember is that advocating for mental health extends past these dates and that looking after our own is not just a one-time thing. In times such as these—with many areas still under community quarantine and classes still being conducted remotely—we have to be extra mindful of how our minds are actually doing.
For one, taking breaks is necessary and should probably be seen as part of ‘productivity’. Having a support system is very beneficial as well since this helps one feel heard, secure, and connected. Should you want to seek professional help, you should feel absolutely free to do so.
Advocacy group Silakbo PH has compiled a comprehensive list of mental health resources in the country which can be accessed here http://www.silakbo.ph/help/