World Mental Health Day is celebrated annually on October 10. The holiday is supported by the World Health Organization and the United Nations, and is designed to increase the public’s awareness and understanding of mental health issues around the world.
It can be very hard to discuss mental health in a school setting. Teachers often feel there is a stigma associated with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety and choose not to share any personal struggles for fear of professional disciplinary consequences. Students will often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to deal with depression, anxiety, bullying, or social awkwardness. School therapists can utilize this day as an opportunity to bring in speakers to discuss depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and healthy ways to improve one’s mental health. Be sure to offer faculty members workshops and speakers during planning periods, lunch, and before and after school so they have a chance to meet with speakers as well. Partner with local mental health professionals that accept the school’s medical insurance and create a brochure listing them and their specialties to place in the teacher’s mail boxes.
Unfortunately, mental illness is still seen as taboo. People suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and even chemical imbalances often do not seek help because they feel they should be able to “figure it out on their own.” One way pharmacists can raise awareness of the importance of mental health is to discuss the various medications and the conditions they are intended to treat. By creating a public dialogue about mental health, pharmacists may be able to encourage individuals to be more conscious of their own mental health status and become aware of options designed to improve their mental health. Contact manufacturers of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications for displays about their product and the conditions they treat. Include a display with contact information for local therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and support groups. Put the display up on the 10th and leave it up for the entire week to reach a greater audience.
If you are a nurse of a physical therapist you too can help raise awareness about mental health issues. Both professions often work with people who are suffering from chronic pain or who have had a severe trauma or accident. While these clients may be receiving the medical care they need to treat their physical injuries they may not even be aware that their mental health needs to be addressed as well. Put a display in the waiting room that proclaims the importance of mental health as well as physical health and the warning signs that chronic pain may be negatively affecting their mental health. Include the names and phone numbers of pain management groups, support groups, and mental health professionals in the area.