WASHINGTON, DC, United States — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is launching #DoYourShare to support mental health, a campaign that seeks to curb the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems, and promote positive interactions that improve their search for help.
Various studies show that stereotypes, prejudices, and discriminatory behaviour towards people with mental health problems are common.
Through messages on social media, #DoYourShare to support mental health invites people to break the silence, share their story, and have an open and honest conversation about “how they are… really”.
“The more we talk about our mental health, the closer we get to reducing the stigma that surrounds it,” said Renato Oliveira e Souza, chief of PAHO’s Mental Health unit. “And when the stigma diminishes or disappears, seeking and receiving support becomes more feasible,” he added.
Mental health conditions are common around the world and have been exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which had a general impact across the population. A study published in The Lancet estimates a 35 per cent increase in depressive disorders and a 32 per cent rise in anxiety disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2020, due to the pandemic.
“It is possible for most people to recover from mental health conditions if they receive the necessary care,” Oliveira e Souza said. “For that to happen, health professionals must ensure a safe environment and provide quality, inclusive care that is free of labels,” he added.
“PAHO’s campaign is crucial to helping people understand that any of us can face a mental health problem at some point in our life, and that this doesn’t have to block our goals and dreams in life,” said Professor Sahar Vasquez, who experienced a mental health condition first-hand and is now a member of the organisation’s High-level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19.
In addition to ending the stigma and discrimination that stand in the way of recovery, PAHO’s campaign urges national authorities to guarantee funding for mental health care, train more professionals in this area, and distribute them appropriately, so that everyone who needs them can access them.
People who visit the PAHO website will be able to access videos, social media cards, and other resources on what they can do to reduce stigma and discrimination, share their story, and support mental health. More than 30 countries in the region of the Americas have joined the initiative so far, and will carry out various awareness-raising activities.
The campaign was launched on the eve of World Mental Health Day, which is celebrated annually on October 10 to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world. The day is also an opportunity to mobilise efforts in support of the mental health of the population.
Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. Mental health is a basic human right.