World Mental Health Day (shortened to Mental Health Day) takes place annually on 10th October. The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of mental health as a global issue, by bringing governments, organisations, communities and individuals together to work on improving mental health care for all.
Read on to find out more about the day and how you can celebrate at your school using our resources.
How Did World Mental Health Day Start?
Mental Health Day was first brought to life in 1992 as an annual activity by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). In 1994, the first theme was agreed: ‘improving the quality of mental health services throughout the world’. Since then, the day has become a valuable occasion for bringing critical mental health agendas to the forefront and in doing so, unifying partners to take action and create lasting change.
What Is the Theme for World Mental Health Day 2022?
The 2022 theme for Mental Health Day is: ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’, chosen by an international vote that included WFMH members, stakeholders and supporters. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have, for many of us, outlived the lockdowns themselves.
Additionally, the harsh impacts of war and climate change, alongside other difficult news stories, continue to dominate the headlines. All of this combined can sometimes feel as though looking after our wellbeing falls to the bottom of the list of priorities.
The theme this year encourages us to prioritise mental health once more, where possible, including redressing the inequalities in services, which have come to light in such difficult times. It also recognises that looking after our mental health looks different for everyone, and it’s vital that we take the relevant steps to adapt to individual circumstances.
Introduce your students to the topic of mental health and wellbeing using our Wellbeing Word Search, which includes key terms relating to the topic.
Why Is Mental Health So Important?
Mental health refers to any aspect of our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. The benefits of good mental health cannot be overstated; it allows us to make the most of opportunities available to us, maintain healthy relationships, cope with change and uncertainty, and generally maintain a higher quality of life.
In low-income and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people are unable to access mental health services at all.1 Even in high-income countries, including the UK, many people struggle to access treatment due to the disparity in funding between mental health services and physical health services. Furthermore, studies have shown that 1 in 6 young people in the UK experience some kind of mental health difficulty.2
However, there is increasing evidence that prevention of poor mental health is possible by using evidence-based tactics to intervene, and we can all play a part in raising awareness around the importance of taking these steps.
Use our Mental Health Awareness PowerPoint Presentation with your class to explore in detail what mental health is and why it’s so important.
How Can We Make Mental Health and Wellbeing a Priority in Schools?
There are a number of positive steps we can take in a school environment to ensure the wellbeing of students and staff. Here are a few top tips from us:
Include teaching around mental health and wellbeing as part of the curriculum
Teaching students about mental health will empower them to look after their own wellbeing, including finding the right strategies that work for them, something which you could explore with your class using our Mindfulness Activity Cards. We’ve also created specific resources for issues such as overcoming worries, managing loneliness and tackling negative thoughts. You can find all of our relevant health and wellbeing resources here.
Educate staff and students on signs and symptoms to look out for
We hear a lot about the importance of staff being able to spot the signs when students are struggling, but why not educate students on this, too? Becoming aware of when peers or family members might be going through a difficult time, and being able to offer a helping hand, will allow students to develop compassion and understanding in their relationships.
Furthermore, it provides us with an opportunity to explore with students how we can set boundaries, and why we need to look after ourselves first and foremost in order to effectively support others.
Provide relevant information on where they can go for help
This means explaining what support is available to access within the school, alongside signposting to relevant external services. Students and staff should be clear on who they can talk to and where they can get help for any difficulties relating to mental health and wellbeing, including what different levels of support are available if they need it.
Our Wellbeing Display Pack includes a poster which details different ways to get help if they, or someone they know, is struggling.
Create a safe, positive environment where mental health can be discussed openly
The Department for Education’s guidance states that we should ‘aim to reduce stigma attached to health issues, in particular those to do with mental wellbeing’, including seeking to ‘engender an atmosphere that encourages openness’ around such issues.
It’s vital to ensure that a school’s values and approaches to mental health align with what’s being taught in the classroom. We should avoid shying away from talking about mental health and make an effort to listen to staff and students around the changes they want to see, to offer them the best support possible.
Beyond RSE Resources
- Wellbeing Top Tips Poster
- 10 Ways to Improve Mental Health
- Healthy Mindset: Self-Reflection Activities
- Motivational Mindfulness Colouring
- 24 Activities for How to Combat Loneliness
- Managing Transition to Secondary School
- Wellbeing Word Search
- Mental Health Awareness PowerPoint
- Mindfulness Activity Cards
- Overcoming Worries Worksheet
- Managing Loneliness: Activity Journal
- Tackling Negative Thoughts Worksheet
- Wellbeing Display Pack
1 Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2021 (NHS Digital)
2 World Mental Health Day (World Health Organisation)
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