Every year, on October 10th, World Mental Health Day unites mental health professionals, people who struggle with mental health issues, and everyone who wants to improve their well-being from all over the world.
The mental health topic is associated with a social stigma and countless misconceptions. Even though people’s perception and understanding of mental health issues improve every year, there are still a lot of things we need to talk about.
World Mental Health Day 2021 is a great opportunity to educate yourself about mental health or to try therapy. If you don’t know where to start, you can learn more about online therapy and its benefits.
What Is World Mental Health Day? A Little Bit of History
World Mental Health Day was established as an annual activity in 1992 by the World Federation of Mental Health. There wasn’t any specific objective behind this day at first, and the main goals were to raise awareness and educate the general public on mental health issues.
Back then, there were many problems associated with mental disorders treatment in different countries. In France, mental health professionals struggled to get public funding for treating patients, while in New Zealand, there was a big problem of inhumane treatment.
About 971 million people around the world suffer from some kind of mental disorder, which is roughly 13% of the world population. Given the overall ignorance surrounding the mental health subject across the world, World Mental Health Day has helped increase mental health awareness and address the stigma associated with mental health problems.
World Mental Health Day 2021: Mental Health in an Unequal World
Since 1996, every celebration of Mental Health Day has been dedicated to a specific theme. For example, in 2003, this day was dedicated to behavioral disorders among children and teens, and in 2010, the theme was a connection between mental health and chronic physical illnesses.
This year, the World Federation of Mental Health decided to focus on the issue of inequality in the context of mental health. Inequality is a systemic issue that affects the most vulnerable social groups. According to Mental Health Europe, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are facing higher mortality rates and are often unable to receive adequate treatment.
Discrimination that exists at a structural level becomes an even more difficult problem because of the lack of information and low accessibility of mental health care. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a significant imbalance in access to mental health treatment.
While people who suffer from mental health issues had already experienced difficulties with accessing therapy and support services, the COVID-19 pandemic made the situation even worse.
Besides, people from vulnerable groups often deal with a lack of trust within communities, which can be explained by the:
- Social stigma
- Language barriers
- Financial difficulties
- And the fear of being subject to involuntary treatment.
All these factors result in a tendency of marginalized groups to be less likely to seek professional help. As a result, many people who struggle with severe yet preventable disorders face the worsening of symptoms because they don’t receive early treatment.
The coronavirus pandemic didn’t change the situation around mental health drastically but highlighted the problems that have been present in this area for a long time, including the growing need for adequate, affordable, and accessible mental health care. It becomes obvious that mental health needs to be considered as important as physical health.
In the run-up to World Mental Health Day 2021, mental health organizations and authorities focus on the following goals:
- Ensuring equity and human rights compliance in mental health care, including shifting focus from biomedical to psychological approaches;
- Making sure that all people can access the necessary information to know how to maintain good mental health and practice self-care;
- Investing in activities that can help improve mental health literacy;
- Developing long-term strategies aimed to address the consequences of the pandemic for people with mental health issues.
Given that educating the general public about mental health has always been one of the key goals of World Mental Health Day, now’s a perfect time to consider some helpful self-care tips for mental health.
How to Take Care of Mental Health
1. Set goals
When you accomplish your goals, you can feel how your self-esteem grows. No matter what you want to achieve in your life, set clear goals and move towards them.
If you would like to get a promotion at work, save enough money to purchase something expensive, or lose a few pounds, you should formulate these goals clearly — for instance, you may write them down and keep them where you can see them.
Another great practice is journaling. You can note all of your short-term goals and daily accomplishments. Make sure that your goals are specific and realistic. It’s great if you set challenging goals, but you should also properly evaluate your capabilities and make sure that these goals are achievable.
You should also keep in mind that all goals require you to dedicate enough time and effort to achieving them.
2. Develop self-compassion
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be mindful of the difficulties that you experience in your life and don’t let them destroy your self-esteem. For many people, it’s easier to recognize someone else’s struggle than their own. Imagine talking to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend.
Would you tell them that they’re ugly, talentless, lazy? If they told you about their failures, would you say that they’re never going to succeed? Strangely enough, that’s the way many of us treat ourselves when we face challenges or fail to accomplish our goals. Self-compassion will help you better understand your needs and reduce stress levels.
3. Get enough sleep
This is one of the most important mental health tips. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how important good sleep is for your mental well-being, especially when you work a lot. You may not have enough time for your favorite TV show or hobby so you may feel tempted to sacrifice a few hours of sleep so that you can spend this time in a more engaging way.
Even though such an approach might make you feel good in the short term, the lack of sleep and its low quality can have a significant negative impact on your mental and physical health. Sleeping is an important mechanism that helps your brain process information and cope with the stress that you’ve experienced throughout the day.
Everyone knows that physical activity is important for physical health. However, exercising is also very beneficial for your mental health. Exercising improves your blood flow so your brain gets more oxygen and nutrients. As a result, physical activity can benefit your cognitive performance.
Exercising also stimulates the release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, improving your mood. These endorphins can also help you balance the adrenaline level, reducing stress. Hit the gym, start your day with a morning jog, or try yoga. Physical activity can also help you feel a sense of accomplishment, boosting your self-esteem.
5. Feel the moment
What’s next? What could you do better? What if? It’s easy to get fixated on such questions, being unable to focus on your current tasks or simply enjoy the moment. According to research, people who are constantly thinking about things that are not actually happening at the moment are less happy.
Mindfulness is not just a buzzword but a very helpful practice that can help you tackle various mental health issues. Simply put, mindfulness implies being present in the moment. Instead of thinking about the things that happened in the past or didn’t happen yet, focus on what’s happening right now.
Enjoy your cup of tea and the song that’s playing in your playlist. Focus on your physical sensations and surroundings. Feel the moment and stay present instead of letting your mind wander into the unknown.
6. Eat healthily
If you want to maintain good mental health, you must make sure that your brain works well, and its functioning directly depends on the nutrients that it receives. Therefore, it’s important to stick to a healthy diet, making sure that your brain gets all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Avoid processed foods that contain a lot of saturated fats and sugar. Sometimes, you may not have enough time for cooking, but try not to turn fast food into a habit. Make sure that your meals include enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you realize that it becomes increasingly difficult for you to cope with stress or you start to experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, the best solution is to talk to a licensed counselor or therapist.
If you don’t have enough time for visiting a counselor’s office or in-person counseling is too expensive, you can try online counseling on platforms like Calmerry. Online counseling offers flexibility, and it’s also a more affordable option.
World Mental Health Day is a great opportunity to learn more about mental health and think of your mental well-being. If your job is too stressful, you may talk to your boss about your mental health. If you have some problems with your relationships, you may want to try couple counseling with your loved one.
Mental health is as important as physical health so it deserves your attention. We hope that our simple tips will help you get started with self-care and stay healthy both physically and mentally.