World Mental Health Day is an event that takes place on 10th October every year. First held in 1992, World Mental Health Day is organised by the World Federation for Mental Health, and is observed in over 150 countries. The aim of the day is not only to raise awareness, but also to remove the stigma that surrounds discussing mental health in our society. This is reflected perfectly in this year’s theme, ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’.
Ireland has comparatively high rates of depression on the world stage, with about 1 in 5 Irish people experiencing depression at some point in their lives. This is compared to 1 in 10 Americans and Britons. In fact, a study conducted in September 2017 found that Ireland had the second-highest rate of depression in Europe, on par with Germany and Turkey, second only to Iceland.
Despite the relative prevalence of this issue in Irish society, only about 20% of people with depression will seek treatment. This goes some way to explaining why Ireland has the fourth-highest rate of suicide in Europe. Suicide in Ireland spiked significantly during the recession, although thankfully the rate of suicide has now fallen to the lowest levels since 2005. That being said, there is still much work to do to remove the stigma and bring those numbers down even further.
In Ireland, along with other countries, we take things a step further than World Mental Health Day and celebrate mental health week each year. This year, the week will run from the 9th to the 14th of October. Mental Health Ireland is spearheading the occasion with their campaign ‘The Five Ways to Wellbeing’. These five ways are:
Connect - Set aside some time for friends and family each day, sit with someone new for lunch, reach out to an old friend. The stronger the social bonds a person has, the less likely they are to become depressed and consider suicide.
Be Active - It is now a well-documented fact that mental and physical health are intrinsically linked. There are many reasons behind this, which we look at in detail here.
Take Notice - A major problem with today’s fast-moving world is that we are always anticipating what lies ahead. Taking notice, also known as mindfulness, means slowing down, living in the present, and appreciating the world around you.
Keep Learning - Study may not seem like an activity that could improve your mood and mentality, but keeping our brains fit and accomplishing the task of learning a new skill both work to keep us happier in the long run.
Give- Whether it’s time or money, these campaigns cannot succeed without the support of people all over the country.
Mental Health Week will culminate with the 5,000 Steps to Wellbeing Walk on 14th October, which takes place in UCD and is open to anyone willing to donate €15. To learn more about this event, click here, and to learn more about Mental Health Week in Ireland, click here.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or any other mental illness, you can find a comprehensive list of support services in Ireland here.