World Mental Health Day Report 2001

The College of Psychologists (District XIII) and the Argentine Red Cross marked World Mental Health Day with a course for volunteers from fifteen hospitals at the Red Cross psychological response unit in Buenos Aires. In addition, a course on “psychological first aid” was held for the staff at each of the hospitals.

The Mental Health Council of Australia adopted the slogan “Inclusion is part of the Solution,” and distributed promotional materials across the country. Its central event marking the Day was a National Economic Forum for mental health and business organizations, to discuss the reintegration into the workplace of people who experience severe mental illness. In addition the Council coordinated community forums throughout Australia which addressed workplace matters, relaxation techniques, and the promotion of mental well-being. One of these forums was arranged for the Chinese community, and the Council hopes to arrange similar programs for other non-English speaking groups in the future.

10 October was celebrated as the date ending Belgium’s Year of Mental Health. The final event was held in Gent, during an International Film Festival, with a presentation of a film about two mentally ill people trying to find their way back into society. Five rehabilitation projects were also described. The year-long public education campaign was organized by the Queen Fabiola Foundation for Mental Health, the Walloon League for Mental Health, the Flemish Federation for Mental Health and the Julie Renson Foundation.

British Virgin Islands
A week of events included a radio address by the Director of Mental Health Services, other radio programs, a church service, and a stress management workshop for 80 health professionals. A TV panel discussion on stress in the workplace which took place during last year’s campaign was aired again; a local newspaper devoted a full page to the issue; and public service announcements on the two local radio stations continued to the end of the year.

The Nchechang Blind and Handicapped Center in Menji Fontem held a day-long event with speeches, plays, dancing and food. Residents received clothes, soap and small gifts.

The Canadian Mental Health Association had a public education campaign about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression associated with shortened winter daylight hours which affects many people in this northern nation.

The Ministry of Health and the Fundacion Saldarriaga Concha distributed copies of the WFMH planning kit to governmental organizations and NGOs. The Fundacion, the Colombian Federation for Mental Health and the Colombian Association of Psychiatry arranged a joint program on 10 October, and had a successful drive to secure coverage of mental health in newspapers, radio and TV.

Dominican Republic
Picture of Angela Caba - Director of the Department of Mental Health in the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare
Angela Caba, Director of the Department of Mental Health
in the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare.

The Health Ministry and its Department of Mental Health headed by Angela Caba arranged a wide variety of activities during October. The Health Minister and other senior health officials attended a Catholic mass at which the importance of mental health was stressed. It was also discussed on radio, television, and in the print media. Mental health day logos were created and
printed on hats, polo shirts and badges (“La salud mental esta en tus manos”). Special brochures were distributed. Themes presented in various activities included mental health and work, the human rights of mentally ill people, prevention of family violence, and the improvement of services. Conferences and discussion groups brought consumers and professionals together to exchange views.

WFMH’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Council, in cooperation with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, observed World Mental Health Day with a conference on the mental health of working children at the Faculty of Nursing, Cairo University. This meeting covered the topic from many angles – family poverty, the cost of education, loss of opportunities for study and childhood play, forced labor (sometimes involving very young children), the vulnerability of working children to environmental hazards, substance abuse, and pressure to join gangs. (In recognition of WFMH’s 2000-2001 campaign, the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Council addressed the topic of working children throughout the year, gathering support from many agencies and NGOs, and organizing a summer program for 200 working children in Port Said. The effort was led by Ahmed El Azayem, whose term as WFMH President ended in July.)

The Paris Society for Assistance in Mental Health held a debate on the evening of 10 October on “Words in Psychiatry.”

The coalition of psychosocial aid groups (der Dachverband psychosozialer Hilfsvereinigungen) sent a statement on World Mental Health Day to the Federal Ministry of Health about the importance of volunteer efforts in support of outpatient social psychiatry services.

The Better Life Association in Kadgebi-Akan, in the Volta region, held a week-long program covering five communities. It started with a parade, continued with workshops and seminars, and ended with a dance for all members of the community to promote social integration. The District Chief Executive attended “and this brought a very high level of acceptance.” As a result of the program one community donated land for a workshop, and two mental health committees have been formed.

The Society of Preventive Psychiatry and the Hellenic Psychiatric Association arranged a press conference on mental health and work.

Hong Kong
Dr. Raymond Wu (left) presenting an award certificate at the Hong Kong Mental Health Day opening ceremony to Mr. Allen Lee, a local celebrity and entrepreneur who has helped to promote employees' mental health.
Dr. Raymond Wu (left) presenting an award certificate at the
Hong Kong Mental Health Day opening ceremony to Mr. Allen Lee,
a local celebrity and entrepreneur who has helped to promote
employees’ mental health.

“Mental Health in the Workplace” was adopted as the theme for Mental Health Month. Deborah Wan, Chief Executive Officer of New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, chaired the Organizing Committee. The opening ceremony took place on 10 October, and was attended by the Heads of Government Departments to show their support for the issue. This was followed by a seminar with a session targeted at senior business executives, and another targeted at human resources managers and middle management. About 660 business people attended these sessions. Five other seminars were held in different districts during World Mental Health month, and more than 70 additional activities (talks, open days, exhibitions etc.) took place.

Hong Kong’s Mental Health Month received favorable treatment in the media, and a special newspaper supplement drew attention to its theme. Deborah Wan said that the goal was “to disseminate the message that mental health of employees was crucial for the well-being and productivity of an organization and each organization had the obligation and duty to promote good mental health among its employees.” The organizers were assisted in their publicity efforts by a local celebrity, Mr. Allen Lee, who appeared on their behalf on television and radio, and participated in newspaper coverage.

Prayers at the start of the World Mental Health Day program arranged by the College of Nursing at Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, India.
Prayers at the start of the World Mental Health Day program
arranged by the College of Nursing at Christian Medical College
and Hospital, Ludhiana, India.

The Government Medical College in Chandigarh observed World Mental Health Day with a program of lectures which included an address by Dr. N.N. Wig, a former WHO Regional Advisor. All of the speakers emphasized that society should regard acute mental illness in the same way as any other chronic illness. The College of Nursing of Christian Medical College & Hospital in Ludhiana, Punjab, had a day-long program which included a display of some 80 specially created posters, accompanied by a public education session on “mental health and work,” in the outpatient reception area. This was staffed by students and visited by 500 people. There were also special presentations for nursing students and for physicians. Local press coverage included stories in Hindi-, Punjabi- and English-language newspapers. At the College and School of Nursing, MAHE, Manipal, Karnataka, programs on stress in the workplace were held for staff and students, while general mental health education sessions (on mental health, mental illness, causes of illness, clinical features, and various levels of prevention) were given for those receiving care and their families.

The Italian Association for Mental Health held a meeting for World Mental Health Day in the city hall of Prato on mental health legislation. During the meeting, the Association decided not to support the proposals for a new mental health law which were under discussion in the national parliament, preferring to see the existing Law 180 improved.

Former WFMH Board member Shimpei Inoue, M.D., translated part of the planning kit into Japanese and arranged for distribution. His initiative is likely to result in a greatly expanded translation program in Japan for 2002. A one-day telephone hotline service for stress counseling was provided in Okinawa and Kochi.

Volunteers from the Red Crescent Society visited patients with mental illness in hospitals, giving gifts, “taking care of them and trying to make a difference by changing their everyday routine.”

Planning in Mzuzu City began early in 2001 to use World Mental Health Day as part of a strategy to develop mental health programs in primary and secondary schools and also in Mzuzu prison. The effort was led by St. John of God Community Mental Health Services. On 11 October a one-day workshop was held in conjunction with the University of Mzuzu. Over two weekends mental health programs were presented in four townships of Mzuzu, with the enthusiastic participation of a local theatre group, school students and their teachers. The same theatre group also participated in a World Mental Health Day event at the prison, where staff and prisoners participated in arranging a program to increase mental health awareness.

The E.D.Y.C.S. Epilepsy Group organized a series of events on 10 October, with a particular focus on “Mental Health – Epilepsy and Work.” It drew 11 other organizations into the project.

The World Mental Health Day notice on a billboard on the main street of  Ulan Bator, Mongolia
The World Mental Health Day notice on a billboard
on the main street of Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

The Mongolian Mental Health Society held a press conference which resulted in articles on workplace mental health in many newspapers, and broadcasts on national and Ulan Bator radio stations. The Society printed a special newspaper combining WFMH material with its own information about mental health issues in Mongolia, including alcoholism, workplace problems, and ways to promote a healthy workplace. A large billboard displayed a World Mental Health Day message on the main street of the capital.

The march through the center of Kathmandu.
The march through the center of Kathmandu.

To create awareness, a rally was held in Kathmandu by Maryknoll Nepal/Aasha Deep. Participants marched along a 5 km. route carrying placards and banners and distributing pamphlets on mental health. Medical and nursing students, mental health professionals, social workers, school pupils, family members and other interested individuals took part.


“Crazyatyourjob?” newspaper is handed out to commuters
at the train station in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
The paper took an irreverent approach to stress at work,
using humor to point to problems and ways to prevent burnout.

The National Fund for Mental Health organized a large, energetic campaign called “Crazyatyourjob?” (“Gekopjewerk?”) The campaign was aimed at the country’s working population, with the goal of highlighting burnout and other work-related mental problems and encouraging stress prevention by educating both workers and employers. A central part of the project was the lively 16-page “Crazyatyourjob” newspaper which presented information about symptoms in a humorous way. It also featured articles about the stress prevention policies of several enlightened companies and interviews with celebrities and ordinary citizens about the steps they take to carry on enjoying their work. The newspaper was distributed at train stations in some twenty large cities, and was also circulated by 150 mental health organizations and by many companies (120,000 copies were printed). As part of the campaign a central event took place in The Hague on 10 October at the headquarters of Siemens Netherlands (recognizing the company’s stress prevention policy). This had support from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the participation of two popular actresses. Many other activities were held around the country, including stress prevention courses in several regions. There was plenty of media coverage. From the start of October local radio announcements made the public aware of the campaign, the telephone hotline Korrelatie gave information and advice, and a campaign web site was also set up.

New Zealand
World Mental Health Day was incorporated into Mental Health Awareness Week, 8-14 October. Once again the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand developed a big national campaign. It used mental health and work as an overlapping theme with an ongoing project against discrimination and stigma, “Like Minds, Like Mine.” The groundwork was laid with the preparation and distribution of 450 press kits, which resulted in a tremendous response from the media. The media coverage was distinguished by the way information was personalized with stories about individuals’ experiences. One special focus of the campaign was to persuade employers that people who have mental illnesses can perform jobs satisfactorily. Another was to highlight workplace conditions that cause stress. Organizations like the “Serious Fun ‘N Mind Trust” arranged multiple events to support the cause.

The Philippine Mental Health Association celebrated World Mental Health Day as part of its annual National Mental Health Week. A central event was a national conference on “Mental Health and Work” which was hosted by a PMHA provincial chapter in Bacalod City on the island of Negros. In addition to general workplace concerns the topics included child labor, life after work, and the workplace as a center of wellness. Special World Mental Health Day celebrations involving a number of private schools in Bacalod City were also arranged for 10 October.

On 10 October the Romanian League for Mental Health held a meeting under the patronage of the Romanian Academy to launch WHO’s World Health Report on Mental Health. The Minister of Health was the opening speaker, and representatives from the presidency, government departments, local authorities and NGOs attended. The League also began a media campaign with its first mental health video spot for national and local television channels, a radio message, and newspaper articles. In Brasov, the Romanian-American Mental Health Alliance had an “Open Doors” event to stress the importance of mental health to local government officials and members of the media.

South Africa
Postgraduate psychology students and nursing students at the Mental Health Information Center of South Africa, Tygerberg
Postgraduate psychology students and nursing students at
the Mental Health Information Center of South Africa, Tygerberg,
which ran a multi-faceted campaign on 5-11 October.

The South African Federation for Mental Health created a poster about “A Mentally Healthy Work Attitude,” a bookmark on “Conflict Management,” a pamphlet on “Guidelines for Employers on Retrenchment,” and distributed material on stress management to employers. Local branches and organizations had workshops with employers and, in some cases, provided employee assistance programs. The Mental Health Information Council of South Africa organized National Anxiety Disorders Awareness Week on 5-11 October, with a central event on World Mental Health Day, in cooperation with 21 other organizations. The Council distributed posters, flyers, brochures and orange anti-stigma ribbons to over 300 libraries across the country, so that each library could create an information display. Similar materials were also put up in doctor’s offices and pharmacies. A media campaign focused on newspapers and radio, and a Media Awards ceremony was held in Cape Town on 10 October to recognize journalists for accurate and responsible reporting. In addition a film festival was organized at cinemas in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. Films portraying mental disorders appropriately were selected; complimentary tickets were distributed to the public; and mental health professionals introduced each film with a brief talk.

The Asociacion Espanola de Neuropsiquiatria (AEN) has been celebrating World Mental Health Day since 1992 with a number of events in Madrid and in other parts of Spain where they have federal associations. In Madrid this year, AEN organized a media campaign with debates on TV, newspaper articles, and radio talks, and also held a rally with other organizations on Saturday, 6 October.
In Lugo, the Association for Assistance to Persons with Mental Illness (ALUME) ran radio spots during October about the need for social integration of people who experience mental illness, and a press release was distributed about the realities of such illnesses. Representatives of the principal political parties were invited to a roundtable to present information about their plans for mental health services in the province.
In Oviedo, the Asturian Neuropsychiatric Association arranged a film showing followed by a discussion.

The Swiss Foundation Pro Mente Sana organized a national media conference in cooperation with the Swiss Psychiatric Association and the Federation of Swiss Psychologists. As a result, there was coverage in more than fifty newspapers and magazines, plus several radio stations. The Foundation also set up a hotline for questions on work and mental health, and this attracted a considerable number of callers because of the good newspaper coverage. A special brochure on “Work, Mental Health and Insurance” was published. In addition to these national activities there were many local events, including charity concerts, clinic open days, and panel discussions.

The Mental Health Association in Taiwan and the Taiwan Public Health Association, with the support of many government agencies and other institutions, held a conference at the Medical School of National Taiwan University, Taipei. This was followed by the signing of a declaration on mental health policy (based on the 10 conclusions of WHO’s World Health Report) which was forwarded to the Department of Health. The John Tung Foundation had a campaign to increase public awareness of depression, in co-operation with the Departments of Health in Taipei and Kaohsiung, and all the 7-eleven branch stores in the Taipei area. This program involved radio public service announcements from famous actors and actresses, and depression screening at the 7-eleven stores and municipal hospitals.

The Minister of Health made a World Mental Health Day proclamation which was broadcast on television and radio and published in full in the two major newspapers. The Minister of Labor participated in some of the Day’s events, which included the release of a research study on the drivers of the minibus services used by commuters. Many drivers were described as abrasive and impatient, problems attributed to long working hours, lack of sleep, and unrealistic work targets set by vehicle owners. The survey found that 42.0% of the drivers were experiencing stress, 23.8% were depressed, 11.6% suffered from alcohol abuse, and 0.8% had problems related to use of cannabis. The study generated a vigorous debate which continued for weeks in the newspapers and on the radio. WMHDay was also marked by the launch of an education campaign about epilepsy, an “awareness” march through Kampala, film shows on mental health, exhibitions, performances presented by labour union members, and also by children from special schools for the mentally handicapped. Many posters, leaflets and car stickers were distributed around Kampala.

United Kingdom

As part of its broader mental health campaign for social inclusion (“Mind out for mental health”), the Department of Health produced a “local activist pack” to assist the organizers of World Mental Health Day events. It included facts about mental health and listed all the free materials available.

On World Mental Health Day the Deputy Health Minister of the Scottish Parliament launched the National Framework for the Prevention of Suicide and Deliberate Self Harm. In recognition of the fact that the rate of suicide in Scotland is more than three times higher among young men than among young women, the Framework was launched at a conference in Edinburgh on the well-being of young men.

Northern Ireland
Action Mental Health coordinated activities across Northern Ireland on behalf of government and voluntary organizations.

A UK Sponsor at Home and Abroad

AstraZeneca, with headquarters and a staff of 12,000 in the United Kingdom, used the Day to present information on mental health to its own employees at Kings Langley and Alderley Park and to draw attention to its employee assistance program, called CALM (Counseling and Life Management Program) which is used by about 7% of the staff in any year. Programs were also presented at AstraZeneca’s facilities in Sodertalje, Sweden, and Wilmington, USA.
Its office in the Philippines joined with Citibank’s operation there to distribute leaflets and bookmarks promoting mental health in the workplace. It also launched a Christmas fund-raising program (Kalinga sa Pasyente – care for the patient) to benefit abandoned patients with mental illness in government hospitals.

United States
New York members of the Caribbean Federation for Mental Health arranged a workshop on stress management in Brooklyn, and also reported that the Behavioral Health Services Department at Kings County Hospital held a breakfast for staff to celebrate the Day. In Michigan, Great Lakes Community Mental Health organized a full-day conference on 10 October, and other activities including a community walk (the “Stigma Stomp”), a free depression screening clinic, “brown bag” lunch meetings on mental health topics, and information on a community response to terrorism. Publicity highlighted the achievements of a local consumer who has overcome many challenges. In Jackson, Mississipi, a community relations coordinator set up information stands at local Wal-Mart stores with material about depression, and also about mental health issues affecting the elderly.

Paulo Alterwain, WFMH Regional Vice President for South America, traveled to Washington D.C., USA to speak on workplace issues in South America at the Pan American Health Organization on 10 October. He was the scientific director for a program involving a number of organizations which arranged six meetings in 2000-2001 to examine mental health issues faced by workers in Uruguay. The sessions in 2001 had regional participation from Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

Ma'an A. Barri, Yemen
Dr. Ma’an Abdul Bari, WFMH Vice President for the
Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, the Friday prayer sermon on 5 October at the Asqalani Mosque (one of the oldest mosques in Aden) was given by the Imam, Abdul Bari Othman, on the World Mental Health Day theme and the Islamic religion’s concern with this topic. Dr. Ma’an Abdul Bari Kassem, president of the Yemeni Mental Health Association and current WFMH Regional Vice President, gave an address on Aden radio on 8 October about mental health and the importance of observing the Day in order to combat discrimination and stigma. The official celebration on 10 October was a day-long event at Aden University in the presence of government and university representatives. It included a session in which Dr. Ma’an Bari and Dr. Hassan Kassim Khan (the previous WFMH Regional Vice President) discussed work and mental health, Dr. Fowzia Ba-Shuaib talked about attitudes at work towards those who have experienced a mental illness, and Dr. Wahid Sulaiman addressed child labor. Abdul Bari Othman also spoke again about the Islamic approach to work and mental health.

The Kabwe branch of the Mental Health Association of Zambia held a one-day workshop about stress management in the workplace for the senior and middle-level management of Kabwe Industrial Fabrics Ltd. In addition, the Association arranged a one-day sensitization seminar for the elders of a local church, so that they would be able to give practical help to members of the congregation who experienced mental illness. A march through town was held on 10 October, with the mayor at the reviewing stand, to attract general attention to mental health issues. In Livingstone the District Health Board in conjunction with the Mental Health Association of Zambia took the campaign on mental health in the workplace to local employers including the Livingstone City Council, the District Education Office, Zambia Information Services, the Zambia Electricity Corporation, the Livingstone General Hospital, the Zambia Airforce, the School of Ordinance, Livingstone Central Prisons, and DAPP. Signs of stress and depression at work were discussed, and also their relationship to absenteeism and low productivity. The campaign in Livingstone continued to the end of the year.

Between 10 October and the end of the year Elizabeth Matare, executive director of the Zimbabwe National Association of Mental Health, traveled round the country to speak at a series of meetings on mental health and work.

World Mental Health Day Report

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