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World Mental Health Day

As reported by the World Health Organization, one in four individuals around the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Today, October 10, is World Mental Health Day, a global effort serving to raise awareness and to cultivate understanding surrounding mental illness.

Each year, nearly 18% of the US adult population suffers from some type of mental illness, including conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. This equates to over 42 million people. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) states that over 9 million of these cases are related to a “serious” mental illness, or one that severely impedes or interferes with an individual’s day-to-day life.

Just as each person has physical health that must be minded, each person has mental health that must be taken care of, too. Encompassing our emotional, social, and psychological well-being, our mental health plays an enormous role in determining our behaviors, our thoughts, and our perceptions of self and others.

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is Psychological First Aid, which refers to the basic principles of aiding those whom are in psychological distress. Learning what to say—and what not to say—can make all the difference in helping someone who is suffering. Having these tools in your “first aid kit” is invaluable.

The stigmas often associated with mental illness serve as the continued reminder that awareness must deepen and change. Although it is only a single day, World Mental Health Day is about knowledge. It is about drawing attention to the people whose lives are affected by mental illness on a daily basis. It is about extending a hand. It is about listening. It is about being a voice.

William C. Hannan once wrote, “I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart. You’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful.”

As we advocate for mental health on this day—and always—it bears reminding that help is there, no matter the transformation that you are experiencing. You are not alone, and your struggle is not a sign of weakness.

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