Every year on October 10th, we celebrate World Mental Health Day. It was designated by the World Health Organization to dedicate a day where all people working or supporting the mental health field can openly talk about their work, and the efforts necessary to make sure that mental health care is available to everyone worldwide. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a non-profit organization connected to 150 countries, all focused on fighting to make sure there is proper treatment and care of those suffering with mental illness, as well as the promotion of mental health as a whole.
Every year this day has a specific theme. This year’s theme is Psychological First Aid. It is incredibly important because we can all relate to a moment where we’ve experienced acute distress after a traumatic experience, or we can recall it happening to a loved one, or even having seen it on the news. Psychological first aid is part of a long-term effort to provide an efficient first response to someone who is experiencing anguish or inconsolability after a tragedy. It is for anyone who finds himself or herself as a confidant for someone in need. The World Health Organization gives us this scenario:
“Perhaps you find yourself at the scene of an accident where people are hurt. Perhaps you are a health-care worker or teacher talking with someone from your community who has just witnessed the violent death of a loved one. Perhaps you are called upon as a staff member in a disaster or volunteer to help asylum seekers who have recently arrived in your community. Learning the basic principles of psychological first aid will help you to provide support to people who are very distressed, and, importantly, to know what not to say.”
Many of us might know the basics of first aid, but when it comes to putting a band-aid over an emotional wound, many of us are at a loss for words. While silence is golden, sometimes knowing how to let someone know you’re there for them is the greatest virtue. The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is a strong suggestion for the future of our society’s normalcy. Psychological first aid needs to be common knowledge. Mental health needs to be part of the conversation.
For more information, check out the World Health Organization’s website below: