World Mental Health Day 2017: Let’s talk Workplace Mental Health!

Niall James Holohan is a musician, a student representative for the British Psychological Society, and a psychology undergraduate at the University of East London.

Celebrate World Mental Health Day’s 25th anniversary by talking about mental health in the workplace and taking the opportunity to spread the word about the need for capacity building initiatives in LMICs with your social network. 

I first heard about World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October 2016. I was in my first year in college at Birkbeck, University Of London while doing some work for Vikram Patel at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It was notable not only because it was my first exposure to the work being done in mental health in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but also because it was the first time I had heard mental health discussed openly in the workplace.

World Mental Health Day is organised by the World Federation for Mental Health and observed in October every year, with a view toward shining a light on mental health issues across the globe and inspiring conversation and collaboration in support of mental health. This October 10th marks its 25th anniversary, and all over the world, it has become a regenerative day of reflection for all those seeking progress on mental health issues.

This year’s theme, much like the theme of the up and coming World Federation for Mental Health World Congress in Delhi in November, is ‘mental health in the workplace.’ The World Federation for Mental Health has released a report to start the discussion on how we can define best practice in promoting mental health in the workplace. So what better way to raise awareness about mental health than to talk about it at work or indeed, write a blog of your own on the subject – and once we’ve got the ball rolling and left its veil in the dust, why not view World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to talk about the innovative mental health interventions that are making progress but are still meeting challenges on a daily basis. This MHIN podcast and MHIN blog detail just a fraction of the interventions currently active, how they work, and what evidence can be produced.

Other relevant material to check out includes:

  1. Psychosocial Disability in the Workplace in Africa: Check out this empowerment brochure produced by the Central Gauteng Mental Health Society (CGMHS) on employee disability rights in the workplace.
  2. This engaging blog details The Global Mental Health Movement by Individuals and Celebrities
  3. Watch these informative webinars covering a host of topics from how to engage young people in mental health programs, dignity and independence and suicide prevention
  4. Innovations: View these innovations on facilitating better mental health awareness within communities
  5. WHO is also in the process of developing its new General Programme of Work for 2019-2023, under its new leadership of Dr Tedros Adhanom. This is a great opportunity for the mental health community to communicate how important mental health is to the overall achievement of this important plan- get involved using the #MentalHealthMatters hashtag.

Of course, these are just some of the conversations we need to be having about mental health. If you feel there’s something not represented then please, join the conversation because until we can talk candidly about the reality of the issues being faced daily by those closest to us, at home and at work, we will not be able to provide those in LMICs with the support they need to face their considerable challenges in mental health also.

In the past 25 years, there has been a huge amount of progress in mental health awareness, but while there is much to celebrate, this appreciation must also allow for open discussion around the treatment gap that still exists for those with mental disorders in LMICs, where in some cases the percentage of cases untreated still touches 90%. Moving the needle on the reality of this mental health crisis will not be easy, but there is a lot of good news to report. There is still so much work to be done on changing attitudes around mental health, both here and abroad, as well as on improving interventions and providing capacity for those in the field to innovate further. This is not something that can be achieved in one day, but World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity to start the conversation.

If you are interested in reading about Psychosocial Disability in the Workplace in Africa, please click here.


There are lots of ways to show your support:

  1. Raise awareness on social media
  2. Sign the pledge
  3. Put a banner on your website

The World Federation for Mental Health has put up a handy communications guide to help put these ideas into action. 

Feel free to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - we’d love to hear what you’re doing to mark this year’s #WorldMentalHealthDay.

Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
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