The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October every year. The official theme this year is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’. (If you want to know more, click here or here.) In other words, no matter who you are or where you’re from, you have every right to good mental health – it isn’t a luxury; it’s a fundamental aspect of your wellbeing.
While progress has been made over the years, there is still harmful prejudice and stigma surrounding mental health that impacts on peoples’ lives (and limits their willingness to reach out for help). We can all play our part in tackling negative or discriminatory attitudes, increasing awareness and supporting those around us so that mental health is not just acknowledged but safeguarded. This doesn’t have to involve making a huge gesture, but being brave enough to talk openly about our own mental health (and helping make these conversations happen) is a really valuable step. It both encourages hope, and ensures mental health is treated with the same respect and dignity as that of physical health issues.
To mark the day and drive positive change, look out for art-focused events in your area. Everything from mindful mark making and ‘slow looking’ activities in art galleries to pop-up watercolour classes, creative writing and stitch-a-poem sessions are on offer. Close to London? Check out the free public screenings of The Directors, a short film (in a series of five) from artist Marcus Coates, commissioned by Artangel, exploring lived experiences of psychosis. Showing at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and Science Gallery London, all the films will be available on request via this website.
No student should ever feel alone with their mental health or embarrassed to talk about how they feel. OCA’s Learner Support team can offer you support and advice, and the Mental Health and Wellbeing section of the Student Handbook contains useful information too. If you are struggling, other places you can visit to find a resource that might be suitable to your needs include: Hub of Hope (an app and online tool to help you track down the nearest service that may help you across the UK), No Panic Helpline (a support line for those living with an anxiety disorder), Shout (a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone in crisis), and Get Self Help (a website providing Cognitive Behaviour Therapy self-help information, resources, worksheets, videos and mp3s).
Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, but this is a great day to show your support for others and start looking after your own wellbeing.