By Gabriella Rodrigues
What needs to be done in order to make mental health care a reality for people all over the world? This is the question that many stakeholders who work with mental health issues focus on during October 10th, the World Mental Health Day. The aim of the international day, first observed in 1992, is to raise awareness and advocate against social stigma when it comes to mental illness and its effects on people’s lives.
Nowadays, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health issues are becoming the number-one health issue globally, and the numbers make a point on how mental illnesses are widely spread:
- Around 1 in 7 adolescents have a mental disorder
- 5% of adults suffer from depression
- More than 700,000 people die from suicide every year
- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in individuals aged 15-29 years
- Mental health disorders account for 1 in 6 years lived with disability
With rising numbers of anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related cases worldwide, the matter is now, probably more than ever, an urgent and essential discussion that must be addressed not only by professionals but also by people in general. And this seems to be the case.
A careful look at social media is enough to perceive how users have been using the space to share their experiences with mental health disorders and raise public discussions that are accessible to people from different backgrounds. One of the outcomes of all the conversations around this matter is that people are starting to feel more comfortable talking about mental health issues and asking for help since the tabu that usually surrounds the topic is being questioned and gradually dismantled. On Instagram, for instance, it is possible to measure the scope of the talks just by looking at some hashtags: #mentalhealthisimportant has been posted over 638,000 times, while #anxietyhelp is present at over 958,000 posts.
Despite the optimism that such scenario inspires, the debates around mental disorders still need to be deepened as well as practical actions from global actors, mainly after the COVID -19 pandemic, which has created a global crisis for mental health – it is estimated that anxiety and depression disorders have risen 25% during the first year of the pandemic. This surge, as pointed out by the WHO, is connected to growing social and economic inequalities, protracted conflicts, violence and public health emergencies and threatening progress towards improved well-being. And this is the situation that motivated this year’s theme campaign: Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority.
In a statement about World Mental Health Day 2022, the organization emphasized that “we must deepen the value and commitment we give to mental health as individuals, communities and governments and match that value with more commitment, engagement and investment by all stakeholders, across all sectors. We must strengthen mental health care so that the full spectrum of mental health needs is met through a community-based network of accessible, affordable and quality services and supports”.
Resources available in Canada
For those who are currently living in Canada and are struggling with mental health disorders, the Canadian government offers support for those in crisis, including Indigenous people, veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members and federal employees.
Through the Wellness Together Canada program, created in response to a rise in mental health distress since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have access to free and confidential mental health and substance use support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If this is your case, you can either call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 686868 (for youth) or 741741 (adults).
There is also support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those thinking about suicide, the Talk Suicide Canada, which can be accessed by phone at 1-833-456-4566. For residents of Quebec, the phone is 1-866-277-3553. If you or a person you know are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support, call 911.
Indigenous people from all over Canada can also find support through the Hope for Wellness Help Line. Services are available in English, French and, on request, in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut by phone, 1-855-242-3310, and online, https://www.hopeforwellness.ca/.
For those suffering from anxiety, the non-profit organization Anxiety Canada provides accessible, science-based anxiety relief. One of its main initiatives, the Mindshift Group Therapy, is an 8-session online group therapy program for small groups of adults (19+) with mild to moderate anxiety that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The groups provide people with support, encouragement and tools to help them cope better.
The Canadian Mental Health Association, a federated charity, also offers wellness programs to help those in need. These programs, which are delivered online or over the phone with a coach, are designed to help adults and youth experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, low mood or stress and children aged 3-12 who are facing moderate anxiety or behavioural challenges.
“World Mental Health Day” – https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day
“World Mental Health Day” – https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2022
“Mental Health” – https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/mental-health
“World Mental Health Day 2022” – https://wmhdofficial.com/
“Mental Health Services” – https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/mental-health-services.html
“Wellness Together” – https://www.wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA
“Anxiety Canada” – https://www.anxietycanada.com/
“Canadian Mental Health Association” – https://cmha.bc.ca/