Everyone has to deal with varying levels of stress. This can be particularly difficult to manage if you also have symptoms of depression or anxiety. When you feel like your stress levels have reached their peak, it might be time to take a quick break to reset.
A mental health day is a day you take off from work or school, and minimize any commitments or responsibilities. You can use this time to focus on relieving stress, relaxing, having fun, and preventing burnout.
While one day might not solve heavy underlying problems that lead to burnout, a mental health day can provide a much-needed break to pause, regroup, and come back with greater levels of energy and a fresh, less-stressed perspective.
World Mental Health Day is on October 10 and as our understanding of mental health grows, we grow along with it. Mental health has come a long way since the early nineties when the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) officially established the day.
Our self-awareness and sensitivity towards it have changed things for the better. Our language surrounding mental health has improved as words like “crazy” and “lunatic” are used less flippantly and we come to better understand that they can be unintentionally hurtful and stigmatizing. While we’ve learned a lot, there’s still so much more we can do to evolve as a society.
HISTORY OF WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
In 1992, the World Federation of Mental Health led by the deputy secretary-general at the time, Richard Hunter, created World Mental Health Day. They didn’t have a precise objective other than to advocate for mental health as a whole. To say the least, it was an uphill climb to change a plethora of bad and dangerous habits that were making a difficult situation worse for people.
The world had a host of mental health issues that weren’t properly being treated. There were struggles to gain public funding for treatment in France, inhumane treatment in New Zealand, and an overall ignorance in regards to what mental health actually is. The WFMH knew that they needed to act on a global scale to solve a global crisis.
For the first three years, there was a two-hour telecast broadcast across the globe through the U.S. information agency satellite. The studio was located in Tallahassee, Florida and it became a useful way to get their message of advocacy out to the world. They had participation from Chile, England, Australia, and Zambia, while Geneva, Atlanta, and Mexico City pre-taped segments for the broadcast.
The first World Mental Health Day theme was ‘Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World’ in 1994. 27 countries sent feedback reports after the campaign and there were national campaigns in Australia and England. Continuing this momentum, WFMH board members across the globe arranged events in accordance with the day and its growing popularity among government departments, organizations, and civilians alike.
Starting in 1995 and continuing on, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) arranged the translation of the planning kit material into Spanish, French, Russian, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic. As the years passed, more countries got involved and, consequently, so did civilians as the perception of mental health became more synonymous with human rights.
The themes for World Mental Health Day expanded along with the times. Women, children, health, work, trauma, suicide, and so much more became a part of the conversation, and today, the average citizen is more knowledgeable in regards to mental health.
What to do on World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day encourages us to be more aware of both our own mental health and other people’s. As well as looking after yourself, think about how you could support other people. For example, you could find out more about common issues such as anxiety and depression, so you will understand friends’ and colleagues’ problems better. You could also encourage your workplace to start a wellness programme that would benefit everyone – they might offer free exercise classes or encourage employees to take walks at lunchtime. Companies with wellness programmes have found employees take 28 per cent less time off for sickness.
Anything you do on WMH Day, even just talking to people about it, will help us all to understand and support people better.
HOW TO OBSERVE WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
- Do group therapy in the workplaceRegister for a group therapy workshop at your place of work. This can allow you and your coworkers to express themselves in a safe environment. We tend to hold onto the idea that pushing through and carrying on is the best way, but issues can arise unexpectedly if they aren’t properly dealt with.
- Practice self-careThere are many changes you can make to your life that can continue beyond World Mental Health Day. Developing a regular sleep routine, adjusting your diet to healthier options, taking lunch breaks, and going on long walks are just some of the options. The point of self-care is to understand your specific needs. Find time to ask yourself what you want and go for it.
- Follow the themeEach year, there’s a new theme and even if it doesn’t directly involve your struggles, you can still learn from it. Spend some time and research the subject. Awareness extends beyond yourself and it could provide you with the proper tools to better understand others.
5 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
Unholy spiritIt’s believed in certain cultures that mental health problems are caused by spirit possession.
Global numbersGlobally, one in four people will need mental health care in their lives.
National numbersMore than 43 million Americans battle with mental health.
Youth depressionDepression among youth has risen from 5.9% to 8.2% since 2012.
LimitationsMost Americans lack access to proper healthcare treatment.
What to Expect From a Mental Health Day
Knowing what you can expect to get out of a mental health day is important. It’s important to remember that it isn’t a day to hide from your problems.
An effective mental health day can help you:
- Get a handle on your emotions
- Reset your perspective
- Take a step back to evaluate
Problems can be harder to deal with when they seem close, overwhelming, and inescapable. Taking a mental break from work and spending some time on self-care can sometimes give you the mini-break you need to head back into things with a clear head.
How to Spend Your Mental Health Day
Sometimes this one is a no-brainer—if you’re exhausted, your body will be screaming that it needs to rest. Of, if you feel you can’t face another day of hard work, you may just need to have some fun. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may not be as aware of your needs.
The theme of World Mental Health Day this year is ensuring mental health and wellbeing for all becomes a global priority, but this starts with focussing on and prioritising your own mental health.
This day is a prompt for us to reignite our efforts to protect and improve our mental health. It is an opportunity to talk openly about how we are feeling and a reminder to reach out if you are struggling.
Due to Coronavirus we all experienced isolation, and the move towards working from home means many of us still spend time alone. We might have had other health stresses or feel anxious about the current news and climate.