Today is World Mental Health Day. This day is dedicated to bringing awareness to mental health as a public health issue with the hopes of bringing prevention and understanding. 1 in 4 people will be experience mental health issues in any given year and today is dedicated to bringing awareness to their battle against this illness.
This year’s World Mental Health Day is dedicated to schizophrenia, which affects 26 million people worldwide and about 90% of those go untreated, despite very effective treatments being available. Schizophrenia is an illness that is often misunderstood and still carries an unfair stigma because of the lack of understanding. The Huffington Post UK did a great job of addressing the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and I recommend that everyone learn more about it.
In a month when we paint the world pink in support of breast cancer awareness I think it is important to pause and reflect on the diseases that kill us versus the diseases that we donate to.
Mental health is represented on this chart through suicide and the fundraising to suicide awareness and prevention is almost invisible, yet it is the 5th cause of death. In no way would I say that any disease is less important than the other, but I do think that successful marketing of one disease has led to the inequality in our donations. We donate to breast cancer because they have done a fantastic job of bringing awareness to the disease and it is time that we bring that same awareness to mental health.
When I was researching World Health Day I was disappointed to see that the US was not participating as much as other countries around the world in this very important day. In Australia the group OneWave is bringing awareness to depression and “other funks” through Fluro Friday. Surfers don their best florescent gear and gather at Bondi Beach to show solidarity and bring awareness to mental health issues. The images are simply stunning.
Anxiety UK and MIND have launched the Don’t Panic Button campaign. Everyone is encouraged to wear a red button in a show of support for anxiety disorders. The goal is to remind those who suffer from anxiety disorders that they are not alone in a simple and non-intrusive way.
Last year in honor of World Mental Health Day Brandon Marshall, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears wore green cleats in support of mental health awareness. Brandon has borderline personality disorder and was fined $10,500 by the NFL for violating their uniform policy. What did Brandon do? He said thank you for the fine because it was bringing awareness to mental health and he matched the fine with a donation towards mental health. Brandon runs The Brandon Marshall Foundation and is dedicated to raising mental health awareness.
Want to make a difference?
- Educate yourself about mental health.
- Forget pink for a day, the ribbon color for mental health is green. Show your support and go green.
- Speak up and break the stigma of mental health. Just having a conversation about mental health helps make a difference.
- Make a donation to the National Alliance for Mental Illness
- Become an advocate with Mental Health America and support public policy for mental health.
- Tweet your support with the hashtag: #worldmentalhealthday
- Show your support and post the image below to your social media on Facebook, Twitter, Tubmlr, etc.
If you are looking for help for yourself or a loved one there are many resources out there that can help.
- National Alliance for Mental Health Illness
- Help yourself, Help Others provides online anonymous screenings for mental health
- Psych Central
- Mental Health.gov
Every small step is moving us forward to removing the stigma from mental health and bringing help to all those who need it.