World Mental Health Day 2020

10 Oct, 2020 | Press Releases

10 October 2020

Every year, 10 October has been designated as World Mental Health Day, in order to promote awareness for mental health conditions and advocate against the stigma that still surrounds them.

The first celebration was observed in 1992, as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH); it had no specific then but consisted of general promotion and awareness of mental health. Since 1994 each year has had a specific theme, ranging from “Depression: A global crisis” in 2012 to “Mental Health and Human Rights” in 1998. This year’s theme is “Mental health for all: Greater investment – Greater access”, intending to underline the importance of mental health today more than ever, in the context of the current pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives considerably and has had a significant impact on both our mental health and on the way mental health services in different countries are being delivered and carried out. As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on their website after a survey on 130 countries, the spread worldwide of the coronavirus has had a negative effect on at least 93% of the countries that participated in the survey. This standstill and general malfunction of the provision of mental health services is caused by the same reason why people would now need more help than usual. The pandemic has forced many people in isolation, caused them to lose their livelihood or to face the loss of friends and loved ones, or all three, as well as increasing the risks of domestic violence and other human rights violations.

The shortcomings in the provision of mental health services are perhaps a symptom of the general underfunding of mental health in many states. In fact, before the pandemic, WHO suggested that countries were spending only 2% of their total health budget on mental health.

In her statement Dr Ingrid Daniels, the President of World Federation for Mental Health, does not expressly denounce this malfunctioning of national health providers, but honours the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day by calling for universal health coverage, which should also cover mental health services, thus ensuring free-access to medical care for everyone. Dr Daniels motivates her call by stating that “Mental health is a human right – it’s time that mental health is available for all”, noting that universal health care would be possible first and foremost through an investment by states in mental health. No Peace Without Justice joins that call and urges states to ensure proper mental health services not only for people with mental health issues in general or those suffering the effects of Covid-19, but to all victims of human rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, who in our experience especially need those services.