Organised by the World Federation for Mental Health, World Mental Health Day is observed every year on October 10. First celebrated in 1992, this day calls upon everyone to ‘unite in efforts to improve the mental health of people around the world’. This year, the focus and theme of the day is Suicide Prevention.
With one in five Australians experiencing a mental illness in any 12-month period and deaths by suicide still recording alarming numbers, there remains much to be done to reduce the numbers of people dealing with mental health issues and the compounding worries and stresses that can lead to thoughts of suicide.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is leading the charge with their campaign of ‘40 seconds of action’, in recognition of the fact that globally, someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds. The campaign itself asks us to take an action in 40 seconds; start a conversation about how you’re feeling, check in with someone who may be struggling or grieving from the loss of a loved one, share a message about mental health or suicide prevention and similar actions. This is an opportunity to show support for people who are dealing with mental ill health and their support networks, in addition to keeping the issue in the spotlight for government and industry action.
Suicide Prevention activities are wide-ranging and can include:
- Working directly with people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts
- Helping family and friends provide the best support possible to those they care about
- Provide support to those who are experiencing grief or bereavement after the loss of someone close
- Working on the seemingly smaller-scale issues that left unaddressed, can escalate into suicidal ideation
- Tackling stigma around suicide
- Raising our voice to influence policy and government actions to reduce the incidence of suicide
- Helping people build the coping mechanisms needed to deal with tough times in healthy and productive ways
Suicide Prevention – What can we do?
Everyone can play a part in helping to reduce the incidence of suicide, and some of these actions are quite simple, as the ‘40 seconds of action’ campaign recommends. Talking about our thoughts, troubles and feelings with those we care about is something we can all do, and it’s been consistently shown to be one of the single most effective actions we can take to reduce the suicide rate.
Here are some simple ways you can make a contribution:
- Treat ‘mental fitness’ as a priority in overall wellbeing – just as important as physical health.
- Let that people in your life know that you are there to support them anytime with a friendly, non-judgemental ear – all they need to do is ask.
- Make ‘checking in’ with the people you know a regular activity.
- Practice self-care – exercise, eat well, make time in your schedule for the things you enjoy and some ‘quiet time’.
- Practice gratitude as part of your daily routine.
- Model a healthy attitude towards mental health to children, family and friends – discuss your feelings and emotions openly and show by example that it’s OK to talk about it.
- Add your voice to social movements that seek to address issues around mental health and suicide and talk to others about the scale and incidence of suicide and why it needs to be addressed with high priority as a major public health issue.
- Show your support for greater action and awareness on issues connected to mental health and suicide via social media or any other public channel you have access to
If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out to one of our counselling services.
Our professional counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.