Each year on October 10th, the World Health Organization works with its partners to promote World Mental Health Day, dedicated to ensuring that mental health is valued, promoted, and protected. This year, the theme is that mental health is a universal human right — meaning that every human has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community.

As behavioral health professionals, we see more clearly than ever that mental health directly impacts our physical and overall health, and eradicating the stigma of mental health is the first important step in promoting good mental wellness. Stigma of mental illness can lead people to hide their troubles and refuse to seek the help they deserve — which is likely to worsen their condition and begin a vicious cycle. But we can all play an essential role in one another’s mental wellness.

This World Mental Health Day, you can promote mental wellness by:

  1. Checking in. Take care of your friends and your loved ones by checking in on them and having open conversations about mental health. Though it can feel like a difficult topic to bring up, starting that conversation can truly make a difference for your loved ones. You can even encourage them to find out if they are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
  2. Caring for yourself. While understanding the role you play in others’ mental wellness, don’t forget the role you play in your own health. Taking time to check in with yourself, acknowledge how you’re really feeling, and performing calming self-care rituals are essential in being emotionally and mentally well.
  3. Creating bonds. Get to know the people living around you, join or start neighbors helping-neighbors groups, and support local businesses to challenge gentrification. “Social determinants of health” include where a person is born, lives, learns, works, plays, and gathers, as well as their economic stability and social connections, and these factors working in your favor means you are more likely to have better mental well-being.

Join the World Mental Health Day 2023 campaign to learn more about everyone’s basic right to mental health as well as how to protect the rights of others.

World Mental Health Day: mental health is a universal human right