World Mental Health Day

The 10th of October every year we celebrate World Mental Health Day. Read about some of the work NCA is doing around this issue.

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More important than ever

On the 10th of October we celebrate World Mental Health Day.  This year, in the face of COVID-19, the day was more relevant than ever.  With all the challenges that this pandemic has brought, there appears to be an increase of mental health issues across the globe.  Anxiety has risen, individuals are feeling more isolated due to restrictions and lockdowns, and the connections and support that are often available are more challenging to access.  Because of restriction on movement and a close down of services, individual's overall wellbeing has been impacted, often in a negative way.  This puts everyone in a place of strengthening the awareness needed to lessen stigma and bring more investment in mental health work being done on a global level, which has been underfunded for years.  

As identified by World Health Organization, close to one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected. Depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and adults. 1 in 5 children and adolescents has a mental disorder. People with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia tend to die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.  Also, suicide is claiming the lives of close to 800 000 people every year (1 person every 40 seconds) and is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years.

This year's focus for World Mental Health Day was 'Move for Mental Health: Let's Invest'. Even with the staggering statistics of mental health challenges, there is positive news.  WHO notes that some of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, can be treated with talking therapies, medication, or a combination of the two. Generalist health workers can be trained to diagnose and treat mental health conditions. The rights of people living with mental health conditions can be protected and promoted through mental health legislation, policy, development of affordable, quality community-based mental health services and the involvement of people with lived experience.

NCA's work with mental health

NCA's focus of mental health is inside the Gender Based Violence program.  Many programs around the world are working directly, or with partners, to focus on mental health care practices.  The work may look different now, with NCA and partner staff reaching out over telephones or in digital platforms rather than face to face.  Current work in this department varies by country, however there are global initiatives that are coming to place, including a workbook focusing on self-care and staff care for NCA staff and partner staff, as well as a module focusing on integrating therapeutic interventions into the GBV case management system.  In addition to this, country offices and programs continue to focus on their work, adapting in the face of the ongoing restrictions from the pandemic.

It is NCA's goal to continue investing in this work that is so important to the overall functioning of many people around the globe.  This year, we hope that you will continue to focus on the importance of mental health for yourself, those in your communities, and for everyone worldwide.  

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From NCA Iraq Office. Mask making in the therapeutic art groups for women in the GBV program. Under NCA Iraq GBV programming, the component of mental health and psychosocial supports is substantial in order to promote the psychosocial well-being and treat mental disorders among the survivors of sexual violence. 

Photo: Norwegian Church Aid /  Håvard. Bjelland.