World Mental Health Day (WMHD) takes place on 10 October, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health problems worldwide and mobilizing mental health support efforts. This day is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health and has been celebrated since 1992. Meanwhile, about 150 countries have joined in and it is promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN). The theme of WMHD 2017, the 25th edition, is ‘Mental health in the workplace’.
The day offers all stakeholders who are involved in mental health a chance to talk about their work and what efforts need to be made to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. Because, globally, there is still a great deal of taboo and stigma that surrounds mental health and mental disorders. In Flanders (Belgiumà alone, about 60 % of those who have mental health problems do not seek help. Out of shame or because they “don’t want to bother anyone” or for any other reason. However, these issues deserve care and attention.
The taboo and stigma of mental health in some developing countries often goes beyond that and leads to dreadful situations. People with mental health problems are still being chained and locked up, which never gives them the opportunity to recover and heal. Others are rejected by their families and friends, who think they are possessed by evil spirits, and end up in a vicious circle of poverty and social isolation.
The Brothers of Charity, pioneers in mental health care and operating in thirty countries all over the world, still free people today from these terrible conditions and offer them another chance for a dignified existence. The Dr. Guislain Award, an initiative of the Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen Research & Development, annually honours a cultural initiative (person or organization) that specifically addresses the stigma and taboo that surround mental illness in society.
Fracarita International, the international development NGO of the Brothers of Charity, is paying special attention to World Mental Health Day. As an international non-profit association, it coordinates 20 country offices and fundraising offices. Fracarita International also represents the organization in international fora. Every year, 37 mental health services in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are asked to set up awareness campaigns and activities for WMHD. The projects of these services will be published on Fracarita International’s website after 10 October.
Pak Dil Centre, Lahore, Pakistan