On October 10, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) will be celebrating the 30th year of promoting World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is: Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.
The need for a global awareness campaign about mental health has never been more pronounced. As the effects of the pandemic continue to unfold, it is becoming clear that the world’s mental health has suffered significantly during these last few years. In fact, the WHO estimates that rates of anxiety and depression rose by 25% during the pandemic.
The goal of the World Mental Health Day is to shine a light on mental health conditions and provide a stage for various organizations around the world to educate the public about mental health, as well as the various treatment options available.
Mental health in America
In the U.S., one in four people are affected by a mental health issue at some point in their lives. One of the most common is high stress levels, which adversely impact mental health. They originate from a wide range of sources, including work, issues with personal finances, relationships, health issues, parenting and other stressors. Additional factors that can affect mental health include genetics, trauma, substance use disorder and other medical causes.
The most prevalent mental health conditions in the U.S. include:
- Anxiety: Approximately 40 million Americans struggle with an anxiety disorder each year. Anxiety subtypes include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety disorders feature irrational fear or despair, avoidance behaviors and physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, hyperventilating, chest pain, fatigue and insomnia.
- Depression: About 21 million adults suffer from depression, which is a mood disorder. Symptoms of depression include loss of interest in daily activities, prolonged low mood, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, fatigue, trouble concentrating and thoughts of suicide.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Approximately 15 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD, which is a prolonged stress response after having experienced or witnessed a highly shocking or disturbing event. Signs of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidant behaviors, hyperarousal when startled, flat affect, insomnia, irritability, anger and substance use.
What are the most common signs of mental health distress?
The goal of World Mental Health Day is to educate individuals about mental health disorders and to know when to seek help. Recognizing the signs of a mental health crisis can help someone take proactive steps when necessary. The signs of a mental health crisis might include:
- Impaired functioning
- Paranoid thinking
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
- Delusional thoughts
- Mental confusion
- Personality changes
- Isolating behaviors
- Extreme mood swings
- Confused or incoherent speech
- Inappropriate behavior
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Angry or violent outbursts
- Impulsive behaviors
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme despair
- Dissociative behaviors
- Catatonic body movements
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Having difficulty keeping up with work duties
- Loss of interest in living
- Increased substance use
- Suicide threats or attempts
Levels of care
When an individual is struggling with a mental health disorder, there are various levels of care available. Individuals may first seek treatment through their primary care provider, who will either treat them directly or refer them to a mental health provider.
Once the individual is evaluated, the appropriate level of care is determined. The options include:
- Outpatient treatment: Outpatient care may involve basic outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient programs or day programs.
- Residential treatment: Residential care can include a small number of patients in a comfortable home setting.
- Inpatient treatment: Inpatient care is a hospital-like setting for more severe psychiatric conditions, like for individuals on suicide watch or who struggle with psychosis.
World Mental Health Day helps people from all countries and walks of life to have a better understanding of mental health conditions, and to encourage those needing help to seek treatment.
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