Today, (October 10) is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. The 2008 World Mental Health Day Campaign focus is on “Making Mental Health a Global Priority” for all people in all countries.” I had the pleasure of presenting at a symposium hosted by the WFMH and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) on the role of consumers, families, professionals and citizen advocates in scaling up services for people with mental illness.
Mental disorders affect nearly 12% of the world’s population – approximately 450 million or one out of every four people around the world will experience a mental illness that would benefit from diagnosis and treatment. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, yet unfortunately, less than 1/3 of those affected will receive any care or treatment. Mental health and mental illness is a part of every country, culture, age group and socio-economic status. The goal of the day is to raise awareness and educate the NGOs, governments, professional organizations and individuals on mental health issues and to encourage collaboration on efforts to promote positive mental health policies, practices and services in the United States and abroad