World Mental Health Day
10th October 2015
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Theme for this Year: Dignity in mental health
Thousands of people with mental health conditions around the world are deprived of their human rights. They are not only discriminated against, stigmatised and marginalised but are also subject to emotional and physical abuse in both mental health facilities and the community. Poor quality care due to a lack of qualified health professionals and dilapidated facilities leads to further violations.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, is “Dignity in mental health”. This year, WHO will be raising awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions can continue to live with dignity, through human rights oriented policy and law, training of health professionals, respect for informed consent to treatment, inclusion in decision-making processes, and public information campaigns.
What is dignity?
Dignity refers to an individual’s inherent value and worth and is strongly linked to respect, recognition, self-worth and the possibility to make choices. Being able to live a life with dignity stems from the respect of basic human rights including:
- freedom from violence and abuse;
- freedom from discrimination;
- autonomy and self-determination;
- inclusion in community life; and
- participation in policy-making
The dignity of many people with mental health conditions is not respected
- Frequently they are locked up in institutions where they are isolated from society and subject to inhumane and degrading treatment.
- Many are subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect in hospitals and prisons, but also in their communities.
- They are very often deprived of the right to make decisions for themselves. Many are systematically denied the right to make decisions about their mental health care and treatment, where they want to live, and their personal and financial affairs.
- They are denied access to general and mental health care. As a consequence they are more likely to die prematurely, compared with the general population.
- They are often deprived of access to education and employment opportunities. Stigma and misconceptions about mental health conditions means that people also face discrimination in employment and are denied opportunities to work and make a living. Children with mental health conditions are also frequently excluded from educational opportunities. This leads to marginalisation and exclusion from employment opportunities in later life.
- They are prevented from participating fully in society. They are denied the possibility to take part in public affairs, to vote or stand for public office. They are not given the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes on issues affecting them, such as mental health policy and legislative or service reform. In addition, access to recreational and cultural activities is often denied to people with mental health conditions.