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The history of World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is a fantastic event that aims to raise awareness for mental health education with the hope of breaking down social stigma around this important topic.

But before the day itself lets take a look at how it all started.

First celebrated in 1992, the day didn’t focus on any particular theme other than promoting awareness for mental health. Then a couple of years later Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World became the first theme. Since then the day has focused on a different theme each year – last year’s being Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World, and this year we will all be championing Suicide Prevention.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 800,000 people die by suicide each year, making it the principal cause of death among people aged 15 to 29 years old. This WMHD, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) hopes to attract the attention of governments so that the issue may be given priority in public health agendas around the world.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the History of WMHD.

George Brock Chisholm, a Canadian Psychiatrist, was the first Director-General of the WHO. Chisholm provided morale, and an idea of inspiration for the WHO and the WFMH in his view that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Chisholm inspired some of the institute’s founding principles, spanning a variety of topics including the need for everyone to be made aware of the importance of mental health, that mental illness should be equally represented with physical illness and that there should be no discrimination in the provision of mental health services. These principles are among many that encourage open-minded equality towards mental health as an illness. If you’re interested in finding out more about the remaining objectives you can have a read for yourself.

The organisation first began with members from 46 different societies. Now, their contacts span over 90 countries, holding world congresses in several over the past few years. During this time, they have managed to accomplish amazing progress towards breaking the stigma of mental health.

It’s difficult to imagine where mental health progression in society would be without amazing organisations such as this. Its effect on the stigma and ideas of mental health have been endlessly helpful and positive.

If you want to know more go to their website and find out what you can do to help. This organisation has a great history of helping the mental health movement, and to be a part of that would be a great achievement.

This mental health day, ask yourself if you are okay and whether the people around you are okay. Acknowledge that sometimes, people need that helping hand, and act on it if you feel you do. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical, one of the key principles of the organisation.

If you are struggling with your mental health or wellbeing, drop-in at the Student Wellbeing centre: Monday to Friday 12-2pm, or Thursday (term time) 5-7pm.

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