For 27 years, organizations like the World Federation for Mental Health and the World Health Organization have recognized Oct. 10 as World Mental Health Day. First celebrated in 1992, World Mental Health Day is a global initiative aimed at raising worldwide awareness about mental health and the importance of ending the social stigma that surrounds it. And whether the day is new or familiar to you, you may be wondering how to participate in World Mental Health Day. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to get involved this year.
The World Federation for Mental Health, which is responsible for establishing Oct. 10 as World Mental Health Day, has made this year's theme as Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention. The organization hopes that in drawing attention to suicide governments around the world will adopt public health agendas that prioritize addressing the issue, World Federation for Mental Health President Dr. Alberto Trimboli wrote in a letter to supporters.
In his letter Trimboli classified suicide as "a global public health problem." Indeed, the World Health Organization has reported that nearly 800,000 people die from suicide around the world every year, making it the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 15 to 29.
"Suicidal behavior has existed throughout human history, but due to several complex factors, it has increased gradually in all parts of the world and, in the past few decades, has reached alarming statistical levels," Trimboli wrote. "Getting people to talk about a subject that tends to be taboo and about which many hold mistaken and prejudiced ideas will help the community to learn about the risk factors so that they can identify and learn to address them."
While recognizing the need for mental health awareness is vital every day of the year, here are eight ways you can participate in World Mental Health Day in 2019.
Wear A Green Ribbon
Just as a pink ribbon serves as the international symbol for breast cancer awareness, the green ribbon serves as the international symbol for mental health awareness, according to the United Kingdom charity Mental Health Foundation.
You can purchase a green ribbon pin to wear on World Mental Health Day (and every day thereafter) from Mental Health Foundation, which notes that all proceeds from green ribbon sales go toward funding their charity work. You can also fashion your own green ribbon pin by using a safety pin to attach a bit loop of green ribbon to your shirt.
Share The World Mental Health Day Video
Help get the word out about World Mental Health Day by sharing the World Federation for Mental Health's video on the global initiative's overall goals. It explains how World Mental Health Day aims to empower and educate people about supporting others while also encouraging politicians to invest in creating better mental health policies and creating stigma-free communities.
Share Suicide Prevention Resources Widely
Use your social media networks to share suicide prevention resources such as The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides free suicide prevention resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone who may need them. Another good resource is the Crisis Text Line, a free text-based service that connects texters from the United States, Canada, or United Kingdom with real-life crisis counselors. In the United States, The Trevor Project operates the only crisis and suicide prevention lifeline specifically for LGBTQ youth. You can peep a full list of additional free suicide and crisis prevention resources here.
Give To Those Operating Suicide Prevention Resources
Those with the financial means to do so may consider making a donation to one or more of the organizations names above who operate a free suicide and crisis prevention resource. You may also consider giving to any of the seven suicide prevention nonprofits and organizations outlined here.
Hold A Tea & Talk
One way that the U.K. charity the Mental Health Foundation recommends marking World Mental Health Day is by holding what they call a Tea & Talk with family, friends, neighbors, or even co-workers. "Tea & Talk is all about encouraging conversation about mental health and increasing openness on the topic," they've noted on their website, which also provides guidance on hosting your own Tea & Talk. Along with providing a free downloadable pack to help you get started, the Mental Health Foundation also has recipe and activity suggestions as well as printable posters and even a podcast.
Issue Your Own World Mental Health Day Proclamation
Maybe you run your own business, community group, or organization or maybe you're just looking for a fun way to jumpstart a conversation about mental health with friends and family — either way, consider issuing your own Mental Health Day Proclamation on Oct. 10. A customizable proclamation template is available from the World Federation for Mental Health.
Get Educated On How To Prevent Suicide — Then Share That Knowledge
Read up on how you can help prevent suicide via the World Health Organization's online handouts on what emergency responders, health workers, teachers, managers, employers, and employees can do to prevent suicide in the workplace. Each brochure (they're customized for different workplaces and industries) can be printed or shared, making it easy to share what you've learned with the rest of your workplace.
Take Care Of Your Own Mental Health
Use this year's World Mental Health Day to check in with yourself. Take a day to recharge if you need it. If you find yourself feeling a bit numb emotionally and mentally, try forgoing activities that zone you out like television and instead reach for something that leaves you feeling relaxed and refueled like a good book, a slow stroll in nature, or an uplifting chat with a friend. Build regular exercise and a good night's rest into your schedule. Most importantly, don't hesitate to reach out for help, professional or otherwise, if you feel you need it.
While World Mental Health Day happens on just one day each year, there's no reason its message of awareness and advocacy can't be carried throughout the year. Because although significant strides have been made in recent years to reduce the stigma around mental health, there's always room for improvement and more awareness.