World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2020

29 September 2020

Article: 54/3907

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is further affecting people’s mental health and well-being as well as disrupting health services around the world.

Before the pandemic, relatively few people around the world had access to quality, affordable mental health care. In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders receive no treatment for their condition. Furthermore, stigma, discrimination, punitive legislation and human rights abuses are still widespread.

The World Health Organization (WHO) have found that:

  • nearly one billion people are living with a mental disorder
  • around three million people die annually from the harmful use of alcohol
  • one person every 40 seconds dies by suicide

This year the WHO, together with partner organisations, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health, have initiated a campaign ‘Move for mental health: let’s invest’, which hopes to encourage a massive scale-up in mental health investment and public action around the world. More details can be found on the WHO website.

Several key events are taking place in September and October 2020: 

  • On 01 September 2020, the World Federation for Mental Health launched 45 days of awareness-raising activities led by the Federation’s youth section, including a global online discussion forum and art exhibition. 
  • On 09 October 2020, United for Global Mental Health will be encouraging people from around the world to participate in a 24-hour livestream virtual march to help increase awareness of mental health issues, break down stigma and bring about policy change. Members of the public will be urged to ‘add their voice’ and join the march using online filters to be released in the lead-up to the event. 
  • On 10 October 2020, World Mental Health Day, the WHO will host a global online advocacy event on mental health named The Big Event for Mental Health. World leaders, mental health experts and celebrity guests will join WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to examine what can be done to improve mental health and how to ensure that quality mental health care is available to everyone.

Further information on travel health advice relating to mental health can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: TRAVAX, 17 September 2020