World Mental Health Day was started to raise awareness of global mental health issues and help increase efforts in support of mental health. The day is observed on Oct. 10 and was first recognized by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992.
The day provides an opportunity for those working on mental health issues to talk about their efforts and improvements still needing to be made in order to make mental health care a reality for people globally, according to the World Health Organization.
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a global mental health catastrophe, causing millions of people to experience short- and long-term stress, jeopardizing their mental health, according to the WHO.
During the first year of COVID-19, both anxiety and depression disorders increased by more than 25%, the WHO estimated. The gap in treatment for mental health disorders has expanded while mental health services have been severely interrupted, WHO said.
According to a recent survey from ScienceDirect, the COVID-19 pandemic created stressors that may have contributed to college students’ substance abuse. Almost half of the college students surveyed reported drinking alcohol in the two weeks prior and nearly one fifth reported use of marijuana.
On July 16, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline went live and is now active across the United States via text and phone call.
With a more accessible number, there was a 45% increase in contact volume, as well as an increase in answer rates and wait times compared to August 2021, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that was last updated on Sept 13
Isha Metzger, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Georgia’s department of psychology clinical program, said that a big question people have is how the hotline will be utilized to inform the police.
“How will police react when individuals are calling in a crisis,” Metzger said. “Are people who are facilitating help on the hotline trained to be culturally sensitive?”
However, most calls are de-escalated without police involvement, Metzger said. Understanding how the hotline responds and is utilized is a matter of conversation among communities, she said, and there have been initiatives taken to improve confidentiality and the limits to it. For example, the police can’t be called without consent, unless it’s necessary for a person’s safety.
Metzger also directs the Engaging Minorities in Prevention Outreach Wellness Education & Research Lab at UGA. At the EMPOWER Lab, she researches mental health disparities and outcomes in underserved communities, such as Black youth and said minority students are more likely to face a higher risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
These students are also more likely to face consequences such as being penalized for missing class if they do have mental health problems.
“Things like not having internet access and not being able to email your professor in time can lead to disproportionate consequences,” Metzger said.
In seeking help, students should find support in their peers, family and professors, Metzger said, such as checking in on each other and being able to get notes from classmates allows students to catch up on what they missed in class.
Students should also advocate for themselves, she said, and suggested students speak to professors about issues they might be struggling with.
There are several resources listed below available to both students and the general population, offering help for a range of issues affecting people’s mental health.
Mental Health Resources
Mental Health College Guide, National Alliance on Mental Illness
University of Georgia Psychology Clinic
University of Georgia Counseling and Psychiatric Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tips on coping with stress
Mental Health America tips on coping with COVID-19 stress
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 24/7 suicide hotline, Call or text 988
SAFEline: 24/7 hotline for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking and child abuse, calls 512-267-7233 or text 737-888-7233
Crisis text line: 24/7 suicide and crisis text line. Text ‘HOME’ to 741741 or contact through WhatsApp
Disaster Distress Helpline: 24/7 distress and crisis counseling text line for people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters and treatment referral routing service. Call or text 1-800-985-5990. if in need of bilingual support, call 1-800-985-5990 ext. 2. For American Sign Language support, call 1-800-985-5990 using a videophone.
The Trevor project: 24/7 crisis & suicide hotline, text line and web chat that provides crisis and suicide intervention as well as prevention to LGBTQ+ youth under 25. Call 1-866-488-7386, text ‘START’ to 678-678 or visit the website to use the online chat.