Mental Health: A growing global concern
World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th day of October every year, with the intent to cut the stigma and encourage more dialogue on mental illnesses. The World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) officially established the day to promote self-awareness and sensitivity towards the cause, to encourage people to practise self-care and self-preservation, including seeking help from professionals when facing mental trauma. The theme for 2021, as announced by WFMH President Dr. Ingrid Daniels, is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. [1, 2]
The WFMH, led by its deputy secretary-general Richard Hunter first announced World Mental Health Day on October 10, 1992. It was a much-needed step to change the perspective and attitude of people towards mental illness – the overall motto was to eradicate all insensitivities towards mentally ill individuals. As the years passed, more countries participated in the annual events and mental health over time has become synonymous to human rights. 
Global rise in mental health cases
The mental health of the global population has taken a beating in recent times. The pandemic, concern over basic necessities like equal opportunities, income, discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identities are only some of the causes for this. Additionally, the fact that 75-95 per cent of individuals suffering from mental disorders in low and middle income countries are unable to access mental health services aggravates this burning issue. Lack of investment and infrastructure in this area is also disproportionate to the overall health budget allocation and significantly contributes to the lacuna in mental health treatment. This gap needs to be bridged urgently, led by awareness and investment in the domain. 
Together in times of crisis
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated 20% of the entire population of India have suffered from mental health issues by the end of 2020, mainly triggered by the pandemic. To break it down further, currently 56 million Indians suffer from depression and 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders, with our nation accounting for 36.6% of suicides globally. 
This makes this year’s theme even more relevant, stressing on the following :
- Awareness on the accessibility of mental health: Gaining more awareness about accessible treatment, government policies and infrastructure to support mental health can help us empathize with the ones who are suffering.
- Practising self-care: Often in the rush of our daily lives, we forget to look after our needs. A healthy sleep schedule, balanced diet, exercise and recreation can impact our mental and physical health. Identifying these needs and responding to them are crucial.
- Making mental health accessible for all: Offering mental health counselling services at schools or at workplaces can help people identify and diagnose the ailments. Most often, mental needs go untreated thanks to lack of resources and awareness. Changing this pattern can help with easy diagnosis and treatment, not to mention breaking the taboo associated with it.
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