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World Mental Health Day: Facts, key barriers to effective mental health services


Today is ‘World Mental Health Day’ – a day that aims to educate and raise awareness of mental illness and its major effects on people’s lives worldwide.

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.


Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both psychological and social support. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), learning the basic principles of psychological first aid will help you to provide support to people who are very distressed, and, importantly, to know what not to say.


The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for the people.

According to WHO, ‘if we don’t act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally.’


Five key barriers to increasing mental health services availability


The WHO estimates that there are 5 key barriers that need to be overcome to address mental health issues more efficiently:


The absence of mental health from the public health agenda and the implications for funding

The current organization of mental health services

Lack of integration within primary care

Inadequate human resources for mental health

And lack of public mental health leadership

Key facts on mental health

Here are some essential facts you need to know about mental health:

Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems.

About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14.

Mental and substance use disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Over 800 000 people commit suicide every year (suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds).

Mental disorders increase the risk of getting ill from other diseases such as HIV, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and vice-versa.

Globally, there is huge inequity in the distribution of skilled human resources for mental health.

Mental health is an integral and essential component of health. Indeed, there is no health without mental health.

As per the latest data available, mental disorders affect at least 60 million Indians. Nearly 10-20 millions of the country’s population suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, whereas nearly 50 million suffered from common mental disorders like depression and anxiety at the end of 2005.

World Mental Health Day is observed every year on 10 October. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.


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