World Mental Health Day is recognised every year on the 10th October with an objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world. The intent is that that we can use this annual initiative to address mental health challenges as a collective in a coherent and effective way.
It is never more apparent that this call to action must be heard by all than when we look at the global statistics. Depression is a leading cause of disability; suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds and some with mental health conditions die up to two decades prematurely.
It is undeniable that COVID-19 has had an impact on every single one of us, with some being more affected than others. Groups at heightened risk include health and frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions have been particularly affected.
To further compound this negative picture, the services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders have all been significantly disrupted by the pandemic. We have also seen other critical infrastructure adversely effected (such as goods vehicles in the UK) which has led to even more worry.
During this year’s World Mental Health Day, I would ask that you take the time to reflect on the mental health of those in your influence. Following this I would encourage you to take proactive action to ensure the risk of adverse mental health challenges is as low as reasonably practicable.
We can all do this by addressing mental health within a risk assessment, and deal with it as we would with any hazard. We would need to decide who might be harmed and how, evaluate risks and act to prevent and/ or mitigate before reviewing the assessment to ensure it remains suitable and sufficient.
On a personal level your risk assessment might point you towards organising social events (either in person or virtual) and on a company level it could prompt you to encourage more inclusion, and perhaps revisit the organisation’s ability to provide support with an employee assistance programme.
What ever you do for World Mental Health Day 2021 then I wish you well. The COVID-19 pandemic has had ripple effects far beyond the obvious that has resulted in increased mental health conditions, as well as new barriers for those already suffering. We all have a part to play in solving this.
Trust. Passion. Partnership.