Today is designated by whoever decides these things (perhaps there is a committee with a shared Google Doc that schedules, for example, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, World Smile Day and Bipolar Awareness Day) World Mental Health Day.
Most people are too busy to get involved; if we all stopped what we were doing to mark these designated days we’d never get anything done. However, most of us could find 10 minutes or an hour. You could look for events in your area or online where you can get information, raise money for mental health charities and network. Or you could do something positive for your own mental health or that of someone you know.
If you have depression, bipolar or schizophrenia, you could blog about it or post some information on social media to educate people and reduce stigma. If you have some lesser-known condition this could be even more important.
If you know someone with a mental health condition or someone who seems to be struggling at the moment, you could contact them and see how they are today.
You can make a promise to yourself to be more accepting of people’s differences and to engage with people whose behaviour might seem strange to you. This could lead to a richer friendship group: it is somewhat limiting only to socialise with people who behave like you do and think about the same things as you.
Today would be a good day to make a contingency plan for times when you get low or life is difficult. No one is immune to that, however perky or tough you think you are. You could list people to contact and places to go. You could write down this motto: ‘Don’t make a bad situation worse’. That means not drinking alcohol, taking unprescribed drugs or hurting yourself physically. It means staying in or going to a safe place, ideally not being on your own. Encourage other people to think through or write down their own plan.
If you work in mental health and you are stressed by a lack of time and resources that mean you can’t do your job as you would like, or you find yourself fire-fighting when you would rather have a steady, considered approach to your work, or you have compassion fatigue, be honest with colleagues and managers. Be positive about asking for change in working practices or continuing professional development. Take time to look after your own mental health. Wave if you are drowning – professionally or personally.
And all of us can remind ourselves: what would you say to a friend in your situation? Treat yourself as you would treat your friends and family.