Wednesday 6 October 2021

Do One Thing (A Day, a Week, a Month, a Year, Now, for You) for World Mental Health Day

Do you believe we should live in a society where everyone has access to proper mental health support? So do we. (Mind)

Organised by the World Foundation for Mental Health and observed each year on October 10, World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. This year’s theme is Mental Health in an Unequal World.

This theme was chosen [...] because the world is increasingly polarized, with the very wealthy becoming wealthier, and the number of people living in poverty still far too high. 2020 highlighted inequalities due to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and the lack of respect for human rights in many countries, including for people living with mental health conditions. Such inequalities have an impact on people’s mental health.

Here in the UK, mental health charity Mind’s Do One Thing campaign for WMHD invites us to add our voice to those championing change, “Because if we all do one thing, we can change everything.”

This post is my invitation to you — and a reminder to myself — to do one thing to counter stigma, discrimination, and unfairness. Not just on WMHD, though. Not just occasionally, when we think about it or are reminded by some awareness campaign. But regularly, repeatedly, reliably, relentlessly; until anyone and everyone in need has access to the support and care they need.

I’ve included suggestions for daily, weekly, monthly, and annual engagement, something you can do right now, and a reminder not to forget about yourself. Most focus on exploring outside our personal experience, so as to expand our knowledge of lives other than our own. It’s important, though, not to lose sight of our own needs. Whoever you are and whatever your situation, you matter too. Your health and wellbeing matter. You are as entitled to your share of respect, care, and support, as everyone else. If you experience any of the inequalities touched on in this article, you might choose to focus your time and energy advocating for yourself and others in similar situations.

Do One Thing a Day

To the extent you feel comfortable, keep up-to-date on current affairs, especially issues relating to mental health and inequality. Consider setting a limit on your engagement — for example fifteen minutes a day, or every couple of days — if you feel overwhelmed by all that’s going on in the world.

The theme of this year’s WMHD rightly draws our attention to the discrimination and lack of opportunities experienced by many people around the world. That’s not the whole story, however. There’s a lot to celebrate and be thankful too, if you keep an eye out for it. One good place to start is Positive News: “The magazine for good journalism about good things [...] dedicated to quality, independent reporting about what’s going right.” Another great source of meaningful content is Humans of New York.

Check in with friends and loved ones, especially anyone you feel may be struggling or isolated.

If you’re on social media, follow key organisations and influencers in areas you’re interested in. Check their content regularly, and engage by commenting and sharing their posts on.

Do One Thing a Week

Follow a podcast or blog that resonates for you and commit to catching up on their latest content once a week. Feedspot is a curated database of bloggers and podcasts covering a wide range of topics. We are currently #73 in their list of mental health blogs. My friend Aimee Wilson’s blog I’m NOT Disordered is #2 for borderline personality disorder.

Once a week can be a convenient frequency to check in with friends or family you’re not in touch with on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s a hand-written letter (remember those?!), chat, or a video, or voice call.

If you keep a diary or journal, consider writing a brief weekly summary of things you’ve done, learned, or achieved.

Do One Thing a Month

Each month, choose a topic you know little or nothing about. Set aside a few hours, or a day or two, and learn as much about it as you can. Research online, take a course, or read a book on the subject. If possible, talk with someone for whom your chosen topic is part of their lived experience. It won’t make you an expert by any means, but it will broaden your knowledge of experiences other than your own. Here are a few suggested topics to explore:

  • A physical or mental health condition
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Homelessness
  • Human rights
  • Intersectionality
  • Any of the protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation), especially as they relate to discrimination or unequal access to services and support
  • Suicide and suicidal thinking
  • Unconscious bias

MIND’s campaign page has information on a range of topics including children and young people’s mental health, support for our emergency services, benefits, and housing. They also link to partnership campaigns with the English Football League, Heads Together, and the Scouts A Million Hands initiative.

Another good resource is the Awareness Days website. This is a searchable calendar of awareness days, weeks, and months throughout the year.

If you are looking for training courses, check out Centre of Excellence, Free Courses in England, Future Learn, and Open Learn (free courses from the Open University). We’ve previously published a list of online suicide awareness and suicide prevention courses and podcasts. The No Stigmas network offers an ally program which includes free online training.

Do One Thing a Year

Choose one area of mental health, inequality, or change as your focus for the year, and devote yourself to learning more about it, and engaging with and supporting those whose lives are most affected.

Take out or renew your membership to a mental health organisation, charity (non-profit), or other body whose vision and mission you support.

Volunteer your time, energy, or expertise to a cause that is meaningful to you.

Sign up for a fundraising event or challenge.

Do One Thing Right Now

Right here, right now, as you’re reading this article, take a moment to consider how you might make a positive difference in the world.

Do One Thing for You

Remind yourself of the good things in your life, your successes and achievements. It’s important and healthy to celebrate your wins, no matter how great or small they might seem to be.

Take a break when you need to. That includes stepping away from social media and the news if you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed.

If you, or someone you care about, are in need of support we have a list of crisis and support lines on our resources page.

One Last Thing

In the words of UK mental heath charity Mind, “[t]his World Mental Health Day is your chance to learn about mental health inequality. It’s also an opportunity to speak out, spread the word and make change happen.” We’ve shared a number of ways to approach this challenge, but we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. What does Do One Thing mean to you, and how do you feel we can best challenge mental health inequality?


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