The World Health Organization’s Constitution reads “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.  To this end there is a large push to eliminate stigma and mobilize services and supports for those dealing with a mental illness. Every year on October 10th World Mental Health day is observed. Here are some stats about mental illness worldwide:

*Depression affects an estimated 350 million people around the world, and more women are affected than men. It is one of the main causes of disability worldwide.

*Around 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia. Dementia is usually chronic or progressive in nature. The condition means there is deterioration in the ability to process thought (beyond what might be expected from normal ageing).

*Bipolar affective disorder affects round 60 million people worldwide. It typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes, separated by periods of normal mood.

*Schizophrenia affects around 21 million people worldwide. Psychoses, including schizophrenia, are characterised by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self and behaviour.

*While there are effective treatments for mental disorders and ways to alleviate the suffering caused, in low and middle-income countries between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder. Even in high-income countries between 35% and 50% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment.

*Some people are deprived of the right to make decisions about their mental health treatment and care, as well as their personal lives – such as where they want to live. Some people are denied the right to work or education.

*Stigma is rife and can have an effect on a person’s employment, which can then hinder someone socially and economically.

*The dignity of many people with mental health disorders is not respected. This includes being locked up in institutions where they are isolated and potentially subjected to abuse.

This year’s theme is Dignity in Mental Health primarily because, according to the WHO, thousands of people with mental health issues around the world are deprived of human rights. They may be discriminated against, marginalised, and emotionally and physically abused in their community and many mental health facilities. Today provides an opportunity for all those working on mental health issues to talk about their work and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. In addition, World Mental Health Day brings to our attention the significantly high number of people who are suffering from a mental health issue including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, and autism ( the most common mental health issues worldwide according to the WHO) .

Whether you are dealing with a mental illness, or someone you love is, there is something you can do. Go to this website: https://1010.org.au/promise/add and be part of this year’s campaign by making a mental health promise. It doesn’t have to be long and elaborate, and you can make as many as you like! I agree with Michelle Obama who said, “at the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health…whether an illness affects your heart, leg, or your brain, it’s still an illness and there should be no distinction”.