World Mental Health Day10 October
World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time on 10 October 1992. It was started as an annual activity of theWorld Federation for Mental Health
by the then Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter. The day is officially commemorated every year on October 10th.
At the beginning the Day had no specific theme. Its aims were general ones of promoting mental health advocacy
andeducating the public on relevant issues
. In the first three years one of the central activities to mark the Day was a two-hour telecast broadcast globally through the US information agency satellite system from studios inTalahassee,Florida. WFMH Board members participated from the studio, with live telephone participation from Australia, Chile, England and Zambia and pre-taped segments from Geneva, Atlanta and Mexico City. In the first such telecast we realized that we were indeed reaching far a field, because there was an unanticipated and unscheduled telephone call-in from Swaziland, where a group of WFMH members had gathered to view to the program. And that year the very first of many feed-back reports came fromPeru.
A key element in launching World Mental Health Day was the establishment of a First Ladies Committee chaired by Mrs. Rosalynn Carter. During the first year, the First Ladies of 11 countries joined Mrs. Carter in the Committee to support World Mental Health Day. By the second year the number had grown to 22 and in the third year to 31. That Committee has continued to expand, and the name was changed to"the WFMH International Women Leaders Committee"
in order to include women national leaders and some members of royal families. The Committee currently has 41 members and is hosted at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Mrs. Carter remains its chair. A third element at the start was the use of "National Proclamations" in support of World Mental Health Day, which proved to be a useful tool for holding ceremonies to sign the Proclamation and draw attention to the Day and to mental health issues generally.
In 1994, at the suggestion of then Secretary General Eugene Brody, a theme for the Day was used for the first time. It was"Improving the Quality of Mental Health Services Throughout the World."
Feedback reports were received from 27 countries soon after that campaign, with notable national campaigns in Australia and in England. In many countries WFMH Board members were instrumental in arranging events. Within three years, the Day had become a valuable occasion for interested government departments, organizations and committed individuals to arrange programs to focus on aspects of mental health care.
In 1995 a broad range of international events was reported to the WFMH Secretariat from around the world, ranging from a month-long series of events in Egypt, to a conference held by the French Federation for Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, to a community celebration in the tiny Micronesian Islands in the Pacific. In the United Kingdom, where there was a large national program, we also noted the poignant event at the site of the old London mental hospital which gave us the word "bedlam," where many volunteers, school children and young people with learning difficulties planted spring bulbs. In 1995 we took particular note of the help offered by the Pan American Health Organization. PAHO arranged for the translation of the planning kit material into Spanish, and made 300 copies of the Spanish version available for distribution to its contacts in South America. Inspired by PAHO's initiative, the Federation later arranged for the translation and printing of the planning kit in French and Spanish, and this year for the first time it was made available in Arabic through the interest of the Social Development Office in Kuwait. Since that time, the Federation has chosen a theme to be promoted in its planning kit each year.
The themes we have used are:
Women and Mental Health1997
Children and Mental Health
Mental Health and Human Rights1999
Mental Health and Ageing
Mental Health and Work2002
The Effects of Trauma and Violence on Children & Adolescents
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders of Children & Adolescents2004
The Relationship between Physical & Mental Health: co-occurring disorders
World Mental Health Day logo 2003
We would like to stress thatthis isn't simply a one day event
. The preparations go on for months beforehand and this is truly a long-term educational effort. In some countries the program stretches over several days, or a week, or even in some cases a month. And in some places preparations for the following year start almost as soon as the current year's event is over. Reports come to us from around the world at varying rates throughout the entire year following the 10 October events.
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