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This Saturday on World Mental Health Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will – for the first time ever – host a global online advocacy event.

World Mental Health Day is aimed at creating awareness and prioritising issues concerning mental health on a global scale.

This year’s Big Event, as it’s being referred to, will see world leaders, mental health experts and celebrity guests join WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to discuss ways to improve our mental health as well as ensure that quality mental health care is available to all. Award-winning journalist, Femi Oke, is said to be hosting the event.

Mental health includes our psychological, emotional and social well-being. Poor mental health not only affects how we think but how we feel and act too. There are many factors that can contribute to mental health problems including biological factors (such as genes or brain chemistry) and life experiences (such as abuse or trauma).

A recent notice by Rhodes University says 1 in 3 South Africans will or do suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in their life, while fewer than 1 in 10 people with a mental illness has access to mental health care.

According to WHO, it is expected that the need for mental health and support will substantially increase in the next few months, even years as lives have changed significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day initiative has increased investment in mental health, a welcome change since investment in mental health programmes at national and international level has suffered tremendously.

At the Big Event, viewers can expect to:

  • learn how WHO and partners are helping improve the mental health of citizens around the world
  • hear why national and international leaders are making mental health a priority
  • hear why renowned artists have become mental health advocates as well as their advice for those who are struggling with mental health issues
  • listen to the performances of some of the most critically-acclaimed musicians

The Big Event is expected to last 3 hours and will be streamed on all WHO’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok.

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