Starting in 1992, World Mental Health Day has been observed for more than 25 years. And every year, the day has a theme – today (October 10) for example, the spotlight is on suicide prevention.
But what is its purpose? Is the day an effective tool for advocacy and awareness, or is it an exercise in tokenism that does little to advance progress in mental health? Has it been co-opted by commercial interests? What do people who may be struggling with mental ill health feel about the day?
These are the tough, searching questions asked by the Mental Health Nurses Association, a professional association in Unite, in the latest episode of their new podcast #MHpod, broadcast today (October 10) on WMHD.
Unite lead professional officer Dave Munday, who hosts the podcast, said the episode was inspired by a committee meeting where members were discussing World Mental Health Day ahead of the day.
“There was such a diverse range of thoughts and feelings about the day mirroring the messages that we get back from our wider membership and those people who have lived experience of mental ill health,” Munday told UniteLive.
“Feedback can range from really positive to really negative. The reps wanted to capture that range and to share the conversation outside of their committee room. I think the title of the episode captures this really well; ‘A Happy World Mental Health Day or A gruelling day for people who have direct experience?’.”
In the podcast, Munday spoke to Lawrence Benson and Mark Brown, two members from the Mental Health Nursing Journal’s editorial board, as well as mental health campaigner Natasha Devon MBE – all of whom gave a range of thought-provoking, nuanced views on World Mental Health Day.
“We hope, for those listening along with no personal experience of mental ill health, it will be of interest to hear a bit more about this contested day,” Munday said. “For those that do have lived experience listening in, we hope they’ll hear our solidarity with them whether they support the day or not.”