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October 10 is World Mental Health Day

Dr. Andrew L. MartinAndrew L. Martin, PsyD

I am excited as I think about World Mental Health Day (Oct 11.), because this is a great time for mental healthcare. Attitudes toward mental health and mental healthcare continue changing in a positive direction, people are more savvy about their emotional wellbeing, and more help is available than ever before.1

Over the past 25 years, I’ve enjoyed seeing a significant change in my patients’ attitudes about mental health. More and more each year, people describe mental health problems as normal – just another medical issue that can happen to anyone. Patients tell me they are proud to be coming for help, so they can be healthier for their families, themselves, and their work. They also recognize the good example they are setting for their friends and family.

Now, for the first time, I am even seeing mental healthcare messages and ads in national media. In a Cigna health insurance commercial, Queen Latifah encourages us all to be honest when our doctors ask about our emotional health2. The American rapper Logic actually titled one of his songs with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (“1-800-273-8255”), which was recently shortened to 988.3 And earlier this year, I began seeing and hearing commercials for large networks of therapists, ready to help, in- person or via telehealth.

As we develop more effective and efficient treatment, we’re also learning more about the benefits of mental wellness – benefits not just to us as individuals, but to our economy as well. Each year, 19% of US adults experience an anxiety disorder, 7% a depressive disorder, and 4% posttraumatic stress, often leading to disability and lost work productivity.4 We also know mental and physical health are significantly related. As mental health improves, physical illness and its associated costs on our system decrease. Right now, about a third of people experiencing mental health symptoms seek treatment. That means there is enormous potential for reducing physical illness and its associated economic costs, and in turn, we could improve the economy by reducing disability and helping people return to work.5

If you’d like to help advocate on this World Mental Health Day, here are some good messages to use: “Your emotional health is important. Problems are normal and can happen to anyone. Help is available and it works.”

Happy World Mental Health Day!



3Hall II, Sir Robert Bryson, et al. (2017). 1-800-273-8255 [Recorded by Logic]. On Everybody. Visionary, Def Jam.


5Blount, A., Schoenbaum, M., Kathol, R., Rollman, B. L., Thomas, M., O’Donohue, W., & Peek, C. J. (2007). The economics of behavioral health services in medical settings: A summary of the evidence. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice38(3), 290.

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