Friday 10 October 2014 sees this year's World Mental Health Day, an annual awareness-raising initiative, launched in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), and currently celebrated in over 70 countries. This year the event's focus is on schizophrenia and the WFMH has produced a detailed report on the condition and its treatment globally.
Deborah Maguire from the WFMH told RSCPP: "World Mental Health Day is the only worldwide advocacy day for all aspects of mental health and illness. We started this day to bring international attention to a subject that doesn't usually get any positive, progressive attention."
She added: "Its aims were general ones of promoting mental health advocacy and educating the public on relevant issues. We wanted people all over the world to hold events and show the solidarity of the mental health movement, to show how widely mental illness affects our families, communities, countries and our world. We believe that mental health education and advocacy will foster lasting change."
We believe that mental health education and advocacy will foster lasting change.
Although, as the name suggests, World Mental Health Day occurs on just one day of the year, the WFMH has seen its impact spread far more widely. "The idea was one day of impact that can have lasting changes throughout the year. Many people take the themes or their own ideas and use it to promote a year's worth of activities that culminate on 10/10," Ms Maguire said.
Topics covered by previous World Mental Health Day campaigns include: ageing, work, depression, violence, suicide, chronic illnesses, women and mental health, and children and mental health. Each year's topic is agreed by the WFMH Board, based on current information, research and areas of interest that have not yet been covered.
Stats on schizophrenia show that 26 million people worldwide are affected by the condition and 50% cannot access adequate treatment. Stigma remains a huge issue for people living with the schizophrenia, so World Mental Health Day is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the reality of the condition.
To mark the occasion, RSCPP has put together a number of articles on schizophrenia, looking at the statistics, the stigma around the condition, and advice on how people to manage and live well with the symptoms of schizophrenia.
For your own way to mark World Mental Health Day, Ms Maguire said: "we only suggest that people 'do something'. We encourage any way that people can use the material to educate others: handing out fact sheets; holding community meetings; hosting a large seminar; gathering family, friends, colleagues, etc. and holding a parade or march to bring awareness; hanging up posters; starting a support group. Anything is helpful."
If we all do something small for World Mental Health Day, imagine the changes taking place around the world.
She added: "One person at a time is changing the way they see mental illness and that creates lasting change. If we all do something small for World Mental Health Day, imagine the changes taking place around the world."