World Mental Health Day

10 Oct, 2019
 
Professor Max Abbott
Professor Max Abbott

The 2019 World Mental Health Day (WMHD) campaign aims to reduce the rate of suicide around the globe. To achieve this, it focuses on promoting good health and preventing mental illness, as well as reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and improving access to evidence-based mental health care. This requires each of us to play our part.

Professor Max Abbott, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences at AUT, says ‘mental health first aid’ is of particular importance to suicide prevention.

“This is how all of us – as family, friends, colleagues and neighbours – can provide a listening ear, support and guide someone experiencing a mental health problem to seek the appropriate help. These are skills that all of us can learn. Like physical first aid, they can be lifesaving,” he says.

“Suicide is a global public health issue. It is the leading cause of death among youth and young adults, and an indicator, the tip of the iceberg, of psychological distress and suffering. This distress and suffering is not randomly distributed – it is concentrated more in disadvantaged social sectors.”

Professor Abbott will host AUT’s annual WMHD event this afternoon.

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare will discuss the new national suicide prevention strategy and action plan, Every Life Matters, and recently established Suicide Prevention Office, as well as the importance of including Māori in this work.

“Māori and rangitahi continue to be over-represented in mental health and addiction statistics. Not just in suicide, but in all aspects of the mental health and addiction system. For too long Māori have not been appropriately supported when it comes to mental health. We need to make sure we are providing services that are based on a partnership approach and pays respect to cultural identity,” says Peeni Henare.

The Ministry of Health has recently completed a series of hui Māori-ā-mōtu in the development of kaupapa Māori lead and delivered mental health and addiction services.

Professor Abbott says: “Suicide is a global public health issue. It is the leading cause of death among youth and young adults, and an indicator, the tip of the iceberg, of psychological distress and suffering. This distress and suffering is not randomly distributed – it is concentrated more in disadvantaged social sectors”.

Established in 1992, WMHD has been celebrated every year since on October 10.

This year’s theme is suicide prevention. Professor Abbott was the president of the World Federation for Mental Health when WMHD was proclaimed 27 years ago. He co-chaired the first WMHD with World Health Organisation Director General Dr Hiroshi Nakajima.

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