World Mental Health Day
Is COVID-19 affecting your mental health? If so, you’re not alone. According to a Mind.org study, approximately 68% of young adults and 60% of middle-aged and older adults have experienced a decline in mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns. But, COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that can impact your mental health. A variety of factors can throw your mental health into “free-fall” or aggravate mental health conditions.
Chronic stress, loneliness, anxiety, relocating, bullying/cyberstalking, marriage, divorce, or remarriage, a new addition to the family, the loss of a job or unemployment, the death of a loved one, friend or pet, a chronic illness or disability, or forced isolation can wreak havoc on your mental health.
The truth is sometimes we just need a mental health day to re-center and find our “footing” again. This is normal and healthy. But, that is especially important now because the pandemic has severely disrupted our lives. It has thrown-off our normal behaviors and routines. And, because of COVID-19 restrictions, many therapy sessions now take place online. This further aggravates mental health issues.
That is why World Health Day is so important. More focus needs to be placed on helping people get the help and resources they need to successfully address and manage their mental health conditions or concerns.
What is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day was created in 1992 to provide support for those grappling with emotional distress and/or mental health conditions.
The goal of this important day is to celebrate and create awareness around a wide variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress, PTSD, OCD, and adjustment issues (i.e. bullying, divorce, etc.). World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th to banish inaccurate and unfair stigmas linked to mental illness and promote universal awareness, acceptance, and support for those experiencing mental health issues.
It is common for people to dismiss or ignore their mental health concerns, however, the arrival and spread of COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear how important it is to teach the public about mental health.
What is the 2020 Theme for World Health Day?
The 2020 theme for World Mental Health Day is "mental health for all." What does that mean? It means that mental health is a basic human right, and as such, anyone who needs and wants mental health help, resources, or treatment must receive it – without the social stigmas or high costs. The truth is everyone deserves quality health care that is accessible by “all.” According to the World of Federation for Mental Health, the best way to address this deepening dilemma is to offer universal health care to the masses.
This is especially relevant today, as the world copes with a global pandemic that has changed how people live their lives. As a result, more and more people have begun to experience emotional distress. Therefore, everyone must work together to ensure that mental health resources are available for anyone who needs them.
Thus, this special day aims to renew the world's investment and commitment to mental health – everyone's mental health. The first step is to become more in-tune with your mental health. Perhaps, a mental health day is in order or maybe, therapy and/or medication is necessary to get you "back on track." Regardless, you must recognize what is happening inside of your body, so you can receive the help you need to address mental health concerns or better manage a mental health condition.
Why Are Mental Health Days Important?
Mental health days can improve your mood, how you feel, and even how you behave. It is common to feel physically-exhausted and emotionally-drained after a long, stressful day. The truth is it is normal to have stressful days every once in a while. However, if you are stressed nearly every day or if it appears to be escalating, then your mental health isn’t where it should or could be.
Burnout, regardless of its origin, can negatively impact one’s mental health. According to the APA, chronic stress can trigger or worsen anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. That is why it is important to focus on self-care every day – not just during mental health days.
But, with COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns in place, a mental health day may look very different than it did before. However, it is still achievable. In the past, a mental health day may have involved spending time with friends, however, now it may consist of a nature walk, binge-watching Netflix, snuggling in bed with a partner, spending quality time with loved ones, reading a juicy book, lounging in a warm bubble bath, or calling or video-chatting with a friend.
How Has COVID-19 Affected Everyday Life?
COVID-19 has changed most people’s way of life. It has not only affected day-to-day functions, such as grocery shopping, going to doctor’s appointments, socializing, or spending quality time with loved ones, it has also had a profound effect on the global economy. Millions of people worldwide have been affected by this pandemic, so much so that it has become an emergency health crisis. Every day someone contracts or dies from a virus that doesn't appear to be abating.
Because COVID-19 is new, there are no readily available vaccines to prevent its spread. The only way to combat the spread has been to mandate lockdowns or enact restrictions. Because of these mandates both small and large gatherings have been universally banned. The truth is COVID-19 has made us lonelier and more anxious, which isn’t good for our mental health.
Lockdown, restrictions, social isolation, loss of employment, a struggling economy, and an unrelenting fear of contracting the virus and spreading it to others have not only significantly affected people’s mental health, but also their access to care. COVID-19 has highlighted how much mental health days are needed and how important World Mental Health Day is for ourselves and the world around us.
- Mind.org. (2020). World Mental Health Day 2020. Retrieved from https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/world-mental-health-day-2020/
- American Psychological Association (APA). Stress in America 2020: Stress in the time of COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress
- Konstantopoulou, G., Iliou, T., Karaivazoglou, K. et al. (2020). Associations between (sub) clinical stress- and anxiety symptoms in mentally healthy individuals and major depression: a cross-sectional clinical study. BMC Psychiatry 20, 428. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02836-1
- Haleem, Abid & Javaid, Mohd & Vaishya, Raju. (2020). Effects of COVID 19 pandemic in daily life. Current Medicine Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmrp.2020.03.011