World Mental Health Day 2020: this year’s theme, date, activities and ideas to take part - and how to get support

This year’s theme is ‘mental health for all’, which is especially prescient given the toll Covid-19 has had on all our lives

Friday, 9th October 2020, 2:45 pm

This weekend (10 October) marks World Mental Health Day, a day designed to encourage authorities to take action and create lasting change within mental health care.

Here is everything you need to know.

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What is World Mental Health Day?

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness in the global community around mental health "with a unifying voice through collaboration with various partners".

That’s according to the World Federation for Mental Health, the organisation behind the day, which was celebrated for the first time in 1992.

This year it takes place on Saturday 10 October.

What is this year's theme?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The theme this year is 'mental health for all'.

"The world is experiencing the unprecedented impact of the current global health emergency due to COVID-19 that has also impacted on the mental health of millions of people", says Dr Ingrid Daniels, president of the World Federation for Mental Health.

"We know that the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions.

Dr Daniels believes mental health is a human right, and that it is time for that mental health to be available for all.

"Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage and is urgently required as the world grapples with the current health emergency.

"We therefore need to make mental health a reality for all – for everyone, everywhere."

What can I do to take part?

There are a number of things you can do to take part if you want to share your support of World Mental Health Day.

The international symbol for mental health awareness is a green ribbon, and the easiest thing to do would be to wear one.

These can be bought from mentalhealth.org.uk/green-ribbon-campaign, and you can also share it as a digital sticker through most social media platforms.

You could also donate to a mental health charity of your choice, and Mental Health UK suggests you also share its ‘WAIT’ acronym, which is a "good way to remember how you can support another person who may be suicidal,” they say.

Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour – e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide.

Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?” – asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation.

It will pass – give hope and assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time.

Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional.

How to get support

Reach out for support now if you’re considering seriously harming yourself: there are plenty of people to talk to.

Seek immediate help by calling 999 or going straight to A&E if you have seriously harmed yourself, or you don’t feel that you can keep yourself safe right now.

Call your GP and ask for an emergency appointment

Call NHS 111 (England) or NHS Direct (Wales) for out-of-hours to help

Contact your mental health crisis team if you have one