The 26th World Mental Health Day

By Alea Ibrahim, Communications Intern for EVOC 150 Heritage Programme

The 10th of October will mark the 26th year of World Mental Health Day. The awareness day was launched in 1992 by Richard Hunter who was the Deputy Secretary for the World Federation for Mental Health. Since then, it has become an international annual activity to raise awareness regarding the importance of mental health and the stigma around it. 

Children and Young People are the focus

This year’s theme will be “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”. According to the World Mental Health Organisation, half of mental health illnesses begin as early as the age of 14 but are left undetected or untreated. They state that: “In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries.”

Mental Health and Poverty in Scotland

For Scotland, this awareness day for young people’s mental health has extra weight. The BBC named poverty as one of the key drivers for mental health issues. With the recognition that one in four children live in poverty and that these figures are drastically rising and intertwine with mental health issues, the Scottish Government introduced the Child Poverty Scotland Act in 2017 to provide a plan aiming to minimise poverty. The effects of poverty affect young people’s mental health and stress levels and add to a long list of causes and effects of mental health such as bullying, self-harm or substance-abuse.

See Me Scotland interviewed young people who have experienced mental health and have advice on how to help young people when voicing issues and feelings can be difficult:

Your mental health

Everyone has mental health and should recognise that it needs to be protected, looked after and treated, which, with the stigma and unawareness still associated with mental health, can be challenging. Mental health illnesses can express themselves in many different invisible forms and are therefore harder to recognise. If you are affected by mental health issues or would like more information on mental health services, how to access them, and a handy wellbeing assessment tool, see the following links: 

SAMH – Self-Help: 5 Ways to better mental health

SAMH: Wellbeing Assessment Tool

Read some of SAMH’s stories about mental health

NHS advice on how to access mental health services

Find the various services Health in Mind provides

What’s happening in Edinburgh?

Various organisations in Edinburgh are marking this year’s World Mental Health Day with a range of events. The Midlothian Science Festival invites three researchers from the University of Edinburgh to discuss happiness. The event takes place at IKEA Edinburgh from 6.30pm-8pm. It is a free event but requires registering.

Blackwell’s on South Bridge is hosting Graham Morgan who has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act.  Graham will present his book Start which addresses key issues around mental illness with positivity without glossing over the seriousness of mental health.

Real Talk is a social enterprise that “hosts mental health storytelling nights that see real people share real stories crafted from their lived experiences”. They will be hosting an evening of stories and discussions about mental health at the Storytelling Centre.

At Summerhall, Out of Sight Out of Mind, will open its doors to the public on the day. It is the largest exhibition about mental health in Scotland with almost 400 pieces of artwork. 

Also on the day, EVOC will be holding a thinkspace regarding the prevention and enhancement of out of hours care.

The EVOC 150 project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with thanks to players of the National Lottery.

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