World Mental Health Day focuses on the right to good mental health

It’s World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October 2023, and this year the global campaign will also mark the 75th anniversary of the organisation that founded it, the World Federation for Mental Health.

Its World Mental Health Day on 10th OctoberChosen through a global public vote, the official theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right.’

This theme reflects the core mission and principles of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), which was founded in 1948, the year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The international membership organisation was founded to advance the prevention of mental and emotional disorders and to help develop and progress effective treatments and care, as well as to promote positive mental health.

World Mental Health Day puts spotlight on human rights

World Mental Health Day 2023 focuses on the theme of mental health is a human rightWhen it was founded, the WFMH stated that specialised agencies of the United Nations (UN) should do everything in their power to coordinate their activities in the interest of developing suitable and sufficient mental health support programmes within each member nation. They also stated that the World Health Organization (WHO) should ensure that mental health principles were afforded appropriate focus in their health programmes.

This mission reflects reports from the UN Human Rights office which reveal that people with mental health conditions experience disproportionately higher rates of poor physical health and reduced life expectancy.

The stigma associated with mental health conditions can also impact the quality of, and access to, care and support services.

The Secretary-General of the WFMH, Professor Gabriel Ivbijaro MBE JP, explains that:

“Despite all efforts by the UN, WHO, WFMH, governments, institutions and other agencies, mental health discrimination, harmful stereotypes and stigma in the community, family, schools and the workplace still persist.”

He says that this “prevents healthy relationships, social interactions and inclusive environments needed for the wellbeing of all members of society and presents barriers to the enjoyment of full wellbeing for all, especially those with mental health challenges.”

For this reason, the WFMH is calling for investment and transformation in the field of mental health “to help stop the widespread human rights violations that people with mental health conditions continue to experience worldwide.”

Reframing good mental health as a fundamental human right

The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day highlights this mission to ensure that “the human rights and wellbeing of people with mental illness are respected in all parts of the world.”

They want to ensure that every person living with a mental health problem has at least these 3 key rights:

  1. The right to be protected from known harms to mental health. This should be a universal right that applies to the entire global population but particularly for vulnerable individuals such as children, minorities and displaced peoples
  2. The right to access quality and affordable care
  3. The right to freedom and dignity, including the right of choice

World Mental Health Day and the associated global campaign aims to reframe positive mental health as a fundamental human right.

Professor Gabriel and the WFMH urge people across the world:

“Join us in this journey as we unite to raise awareness about the importance of mental health as an indispensable universal human right, with the vision of fostering a world that values and nurtures the wellbeing of all.”

The WFMH first established World Mental Health Day on 10th October 1992 and it has been observed every year since with the aim of raising awareness and engaging with the global community to encourage people to take action and create lasting change in mental health.

Individuals can engage with the campaign, share details of their own events and initiatives and download the World Mental Health Day toolkit from the dedicated campaign website.

World Mental Health Day in the UK

Good mental health care and support is still hard to accessThe profile of the global awareness campaign has risen steadily and it has been harnessed by governments, organisations and charities as they develop and launch their own initiatives to raise awareness of and promote various aspects of mental health and mental health care.

In the UK, the Mental Health Foundation celebrates World Mental Health Day every year as a chance to raise funds and awareness, drive positive change and encourage people to talk about mental health and seek help if they’re struggling.

They encourage people to mark the day by hosting a Tea & Talk with friends, relatives or colleagues.

People can also purchase a green ribbon from the Mental Health Foundation to show their support for positive mental health for everyone, and they are encouraged to join in the conversation on social media. Posters and suggested social media posts are provided on their website.

Meanwhile, leading mental health charity Mind are calling for action.

The charity acknowledges that World Mental Health Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health problems, but argues that “more and more of us are aware of mental health. And so many of us still aren’t getting the right support.”

They add:

“Awareness is just the start. Now it’s time to act.”

The charity is calling on the UK government to take action and publish a reformed Mental Health Act.

On their website they assert:

“Mental health hospitals are broken. Buildings are crumbling. Wards are often bare, cold and rundown. And people’s voices are being ignored.

“On top of this, we’re still waiting for the UK government to reform the 40 year old Mental Health Act to give people more say in their treatment and strengthen their rights while in hospital.

“The UK government must deliver a reformed Mental Health Act before the next election.”

People are invited to sign their petition online now. They also have World Mental Health Day materials available to download.

Make time to talk this World Mental Health Day

Mind and other charities such as Rethink Mental Illness have previously provided some simple advice for starting a conversation with someone about their mental health and wellbeing.

Tips include:

  1. Ask questions and listen– asking questions can give the person opportunity and encouragement to express how they’re feeling and can help you to understand their experiences better. Focus on asking open, non-judgmental questions, such as ‘how do you feel about that?’
  2. Think about the time and place– It can be easier to start a tricky conversation if you’re not sat face-to-face with the person. You could try starting a chat when you’re walking, cooking or sat in traffic.
  3. Don’t try and fix it– Talking can be a powerful tool to help someone who is experiencing poor mental wellbeing. They may not want advice and instead just want someone to listen. Recovery can be a complex and lengthy process and they may have already considered and adopted a number of strategies, so try to resist offering a quick fix ‘solution.’
  4. Treat them the same– Listen to the person, support them, but don’t treat them any differently. They are still the same person, and they want to know that you recognise that and that you can still do the same things you’ve always done together.
  5. Be patient– Although its important to try, they may simply not be ready to talk about what they’re going through, and that’s ok. They will know that they can come to you when they are ready to talk.

You can also find ways to support people if you are not able to get them talking, such as:

  • Finding something in your local community to get involved in together
  • Sending a text to let them know you’re thinking of them
  • Offering help with day-to-day tasks

While having conversations about mental health is a great thing, sometimes they can bring up sensitive and difficult subjects and feelings, and you may need to seek support. Mind offers advice about seeking help while Rethink Mental Illness can help you find support in your area.

Improving mental health literacy through training

World Mental Health Day is a global awareness campaignMental health learning and development solutions can also play a significant role in helping people to recognise risk factors and proactively support positive mental wellbeing across the UK.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safety, manual handling, food safetymental healthhealth and social care and more.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental HealthMental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging StressAnxiety and Phobias AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“People have often avoided talking openly about their mental wellbeing, and any struggles they may be experiencing. How often do we tell people we’re ‘fine’ when it’s not really the full story, because we’re not sure if they want to know how we’re really feeling?

“This is why starting an open and honest conversation about mental health can be so vital; people need to know that someone cares and that they are free to talk about their experiences and worries.

“Talking can really be that first all-important step to getting much-needed help and support, and training can give people the confidence and knowledge to start those conversations, and keep them going.”

Resources to support mental health and wellbeing

brief summary of our mental health training can now be downloaded as an infographic.

We also have a number of other free infographics available to download which provide simple tips for helping to manage your mental wellbeing. These include:

You can also download our free Guide to Mental Health Training from our website.

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to

Further support for mental health concerns: