October 10 was World Mental Health Day, a global observance that raises awareness about mental health issues around the world. Mental health issues are not unique to the United States. They affect people in every country.
This year the theme of World Mental Health Day was Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. Younger people encounter many challenges, including conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. According to the World Health Organization, 16 percent of the global burden of disease and injury for those ages 10–19 is attributed to mental health conditions. Also, half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14, but in most cases they are undetected and untreated.
While the situation is urgent, there’s an increasing awareness among the global community that action needs to be taken, according to WHO. This includes preventative measures such as putting more focus on building mental resilience from an early age and educating parents, teachers and others about how to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a mental illness. It is also imperative that governments invest in mental health services and programs for their younger citizens.
If you have questions about your own child’s mental health, there are free resources available at the Children’s Mental Health Matters! website.
In addition to prevention and support for increased services, reducing the stigma around mental illness plays an important part in this process. That’s what another observance we recognized last week promoted: Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Mental Illness Awareness Week was an effort dedicated to ending the stigma those with mental illness often encounter. When you consider one in five Americans is affected by a mental health condition, we can see the challenge that is front of us.
But this stigma can be overcome through awareness, empathy and understanding. Our friends at the National Alliance on Mental Illness have a page dedicated to this week. You can visit it here.