No greater light was shone on the importance of mental health than during the pandemic. With economic instability, a global shutdown, and social isolation, people around the world felt the negative effects on their mental health. This led to a rise in global conversation and a renewed focus on ensuring mental health services were available and accessible to those who needed them. The World Health Organization chose to reflect this in their theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, which is to make mental health care a reality for all.
Why We Need Mental Health Services
While many people often feel alone in their mental health struggles, it’s worth looking at the numbers to see how pervasive these issues are. According to the World Health Organization, close to one billion people have a mental health disorder globally. Breaking it down further, depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, and it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression. Finally, one in every 100 deaths is by suicide and it is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years. The heaviness of these issues, combined with the stigma often associated with talking about mental health disorders, isolates people further when they are struggling. It’s imperative for mental health services both to be quickly accessible and acceptable to use. It’s in normalizing the conversation around these struggles that will encourage people to reach out and accept the help they need. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum, though, which is why it is so important for global organizations like the WHO, employer organizations, and even supportive social circles to normalize talking about mental health issues, embracing each other’s struggles, and most importantly, encouraging others to ask for help.
How to Make Mental Health Care a Reality for All
While the need for increased access to mental health services is clear, there is still a gap between what is available and what is provided. With conversations happening on a global scale with the WHO, a national scale, and even at the grassroots level, it is possible to shift the conversation around mental health and continue to identify and close these mental health care gaps.
In Canada, there are organizations working to bridge that gap, destigmatize the conversation, and to make mental health services more accessible. One of those is Inkblot Therapy, which connects individuals seeking mental health services to therapists through their virtual platform, with an approach that makes mental health services convenient, affordable, and confidential. Another is First Session, which helps individuals find the right therapist for them through video interviews with therapists available on their platform. In addition to services such as these, there are 24/7 helplines available for individuals seeking assistance.
Changing the Conversation as We Move Forward
Most importantly, though, is bringing the conversation about mental health to the forefront and making it as easy to talk about mental health disorders as it is physical health. While there are efforts being made around the globe to improve this, we’re not there yet. However, dedicated days such as World Mental Health Day and Bell Let’s Talk Day in January are a step in the right direction to normalize mental health conversations. Finally, while it is important that there is an appropriate mental health infrastructure to support those who are struggling, it is also important that we continue to make it acceptable to reach for help when we need it. It is one of the most necessary steps for bringing around change and an important part of making mental health care a reality for all.
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