Celebrated annually on October 10, World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness and spread education about mental health issues all across the globe. "In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the important role mental health plays in achieving global development goals, as illustrated by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Those with mental health conditions are more prone to dying prematurely. One of the major causes of disability is depression and the second most common cause of death among those between 15 and 29 years of age is suicide, as per WHO. 

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“Majority of the people living with mental health problems in the low-and middle-income countries do not get adequate treatment. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased our challenges multifold which need to be addressed on a priority,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia Region, told Hindustan Times. 

History and Significance of World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was first held in the year 1992 as an annual activity of the World Federation for Mental Health.

Although it did not have a particular theme at that time, it still aimed to promote mental health advocacy and educate the public on relevant issues. In 1994, the first theme for the day was introduced, which was “Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services throughout the World”.

Some of the themes in the past were Women and Mental Health (1996), Children and Mental Health (1997), Mental Health and Human Rights (1998) and Mental Health and Ageing (1999).

Theme for this year's World Mental Health Day

This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is 'Mental health in an unequal world'. This comes after the entire world has been struggling with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. “Along with the treatment gap, we must address workplace stress, help adolescents in schools as also caregivers and families of people living with mental health issues. We need to proactively address stigma and discrimination associated with mental ill health that creates barrier to access care and treatment,” the Regional Director said.