October 10th; The History of National Mental Health Day and Where People Are at Now

By Kelly Bjornstad

On october 10th, the world celebrated National Mental Health Day; A day that began as an approach to raise awareness to the mental health crisis across the globe. In 1992, Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter instituted the very first day of the event. It was officially admitted 30 years ago in 1994, taking on the theme of “Improving the quality of Mental Health services throughout the world.” This year, the theme is “Make Mental health and well being for all a global priority.” 

And this year, mental health day means more than ever. After the covid-19 outbreak, pandemic restrictions left many at a lower mental point than they had ever reached before. People had difficulty reintegrating into a normal schedule.They faced frequent, heightened amounts of anxiety and depression. CNN’s recent poll shows that more than 90% of adults thought there was a mental health crisis in the country. And according to the World Health Organization, California ranked number 28 out of 51 states in Mental health and wellbeing struggles, accounting for things like mental illness, untreated diagnosis, substance abuse, those with suicidal thoughts, those uninsured, and those who could not see a doctor due to costs. 

However, this is only for adults in California. Teenagers, young adults, and the youth are a large percentage of the population who were heavily impacted from quarantine, and still suffer with mental health issues today. Katherine Schaffer from Pew Research Center writes “Overall, 37% of students at public and private high schools reported that their mental health was not good most or all of the time during the pandemic, according to the CDC’s Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey, which was fielded from January to June 2021.” This Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences survey took things like stress, anxiety, and depression into its narrative. And NAMI– The National Alliance On Mental Illness, took a poll on a sample of 1,015 U.S. teens aged 12-17 to conclude that 64% of participants feel the world is more stressful now than it was for their parents at their same age. 1 in 6 participants reported experiencing negative emotions all of the time or often.  As the world continues to evolve into a place with more and more complications, it is vital that the U.S. and all countries across the world take mental health very seriously. To discard wellbeing and people’s mental state would be to completely ignore one of the biggest human crises on the planet. Humans are not meant to motor on like machines, or to ignore the way that they feel just to keep a very basic quality of living. The estimated billions of workdays lost to mental health struggles cannot continue to go unnoticed. As Devora Kestel, Director of Mental Health and Substance Use Unit at the Pan American Health organization explains, “…personal shame, internalized through an individual’s mental health suffering, is a silent problem.” If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, do not hesitate to speak with someone you trust, or call this national mental health helpline:  1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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