About 100 countries, including the United States, Pakistan and Tonga, celebrated World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10. The annual event, begun in 1994 by the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH), has attracted sponsors including APA, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.
"The goal of this year's campaign theme-mental and physical health across the lifespan-was to increase awareness that mental and physical health are very much integrated and connected," says Preston Garrison, CEO of WFMH.
In Washington, D.C., supporters gathered on Oct. 11 at a symposium to hear a slate of speakers including Benedetto Saraceno, MD, director of mental health and substance dependence at the World Health Organization. According to Saraceno, government officials are beginning to see that mental health plays a role in a country's productivity. Disorders such as depression create huge public health burdens worldwide, he said.
Elsewhere, the Mental Health Council of Australia ran a monthlong public awareness campaign, and Tonga's Ministry of Health sponsored a parade and ran workshops for public health workers-to name just a few of the events held around the world.
"By promoting World Mental Health Day, APA has a real opportunity to participate in the move to put mental health into the world's public health agenda," says Merry Bullock, PhD, director of APA's Office of International Affairs, who attended the Washington, D.C., gathering.