World Mental Health Day 2015
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
This year the World Federation for Mental Health has chosen “Dignity in Mental Health” as the theme for World Mental
Health Day on 10 October. “Dignity” is a word that has a number of meanings, none of them precise—but we all recognize
dignity when we see it, and more importantly, we recognize the lack of it when it’s absent.
With this year’s theme we aim to show the ways in which dignity can be provided in all aspects of mental health, ranging
from care for our patients/consumers to the attitudes of the general public. We hope you will support the theme with
activities in your own region that educate people about the importance of dignity in mental health.
All too often people with mental disorders and their families find dignity absent in their dealings with health care providers
and with society at large. They feel demeaned by the manner in which they are treated. Health professionals don’t
have the time needed to address difficult problems. Budget problems at the national level impact health and social care
budgets at the local level, making coordinated care difficult to achieve. People with mental disorders frequently do not
get coordinated care for other illnesses that may be present, resulting in neglect of their overall health—and ultimately,
Having said the above I should also underline that a somewhat broader conception of dignity should include reciprocal
respect between providers and recipients of care. Synthesis and collaboration is certainly preferable to antithesis and confrontation.
We must all realize that the enemy is the illness, not the professionals.
This year’s World Mental Health Day material looks at dignity in mental health from several directions. In terms of mental
disorders, we think about dignity in treatment and care, and consumers of mental health services can provide valuable
insight about that. Person-centered care is of major importance.
We’ve included material about educating the public on mental and behavioral disorders to encourage a better understanding
of these disorders. Approaching public education at an earlier point is an important part of this year’s material. Mental
health promotion is part of the foundation for spreading a message about dignity in mental health. An appreciation that
good mental health is a valuable asset should encourage people to think about mental health more broadly and also think
about ways to support it and thus also serve prevention by reducing the risk of mental illness. For example, starting early
to teach young children and teenagers about social and emotional learning strategies lays a foundation for enlightened
Incorporating dignity into an approach to mental health issues is fundamental to dealing with stigma and discrimination.
There is nothing dignified about subjecting people with any illness to stigma, adding to the problems they already cope
with through the illness itself. We need to work harder towards changing social attitudes and spreading public awareness
of the nature of mental illness.
As we seek to change outlooks, the importance of recovery is a central part of the message. Dignity is inherent in recovery.
Care should encompass not just the present stage of the illness but the prospect that, over time, improvement can be
achieved and that recovery, both in its medical sense and in its broader psychosocial connotation is a realistic and certainly
Prof. George Christodoulou
President, World Federation for Mental Health
Why dignity was chosen as the theme for this year?
Every human interaction holds the potential to be a dignity encounter and this can either be positive or negative. Sadly,
although many people with mental health problems and their families can describe a positive dignity encounter, the majority
describes encounters that are negative. This is unacceptable – we cannot be bystanders, we need to do something.
What do we know?
One in four adults will experience mental health difficulties. Over 450 million people globally experience mental disorders
each year. Despite the commonly repeated mantra of ‘no health without mental health,’ people with mental health difficulties
continue to face challenges in obtaining the help that they require.
Stigma and discrimination are significant barriers to obtaining good mental health care and to accessing the everyday
social activities that keep us mentally well. Stigma interferes with people’s full participation in society and deprives them
of their dignity.
People with mental health difficulties, their families, caregivers, governments, NGO’s (non-governmental organizations),
professionals of all kinds and the associations that represent them would like all encounters to result in a positive dignity
experience. To make dignity in mental health a reality requires every member of society to work together and make mental
health visible, not something to be ashamed of.
World Mental Health Day is our opportunity to show our solidarity with people who live with mental illness and their families
and to make ourselves visible to fight stigma.
Show some positive action for mental health from 10th September 2015 to 10th December 2015. This can include organizing
a physical activity to highlight the importance of dignity in mental health, an artistic activity such as a concert or art
exhibition and awareness raising event in your local shopping center or town center and share your experiences with us.
Please find the 2015 campaign material for the theme Dignity in Mental Health. You are able to use this entire document, with all necessary credits and sources noted, for your WMHD awareness event.
NB Our information about the World Mental Health Day has been taken from the campaign material.