In March 2018, Demi Lovato celebrated her six years of sobriety through a concert at Barclays Center, during which she said to the audience, “The reason why I became so open about my story is because I know that there are people here tonight that need to ask for help and I want them to know that it’s OK. Mental health is something that we all need to talk about, and we need to take the stigma away from it.”

So let’s talk about it.

Did you know that doctors used to perform horrible medical procedures such as lobotomy for mental health illnesses?

It’s a neurosurgical operation that involves permanently damaging parts of the brain’s prefrontal lobe, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Doctors would perform this procedure for people with mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia.

LiveScience says they do it because they thought the behaviors they were trying to fix were set down in neurological connections. So the idea was as simple as “if you could damage those connections, you could stop the bad behaviors.”

Lobotomy was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when there were no options or effective ways to treat those conditions. People were “pretty desperate” for any kind of intervention for mental illness then, especially with the prevailing taboo of the time.

According to the Museum of Health Care, in the old days, individuals with mental illnesses were considered “wild beasts” that needed to be confined. So not only were they exposed to dangerous neuro medical treatments like lobotomy, but they were also isolated from society in asylums like the Bethlem Royal Hospital, which has been in practice since the 13th century.

It has been a long and rough journey to achieve how people see and identify mental health’s role in our well-being now. From blogs to public talks about mental health, the conversation on the issue has never been as public as today. But the work to raise awareness about mental health is far from done.

What’s the urgency now?

The World Health Organization (WHO) wrote that depression is currently one of the leading factors causing disability, and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29 years olds. In fact, one in five U.S adults experiences severe mental illnesses each year. Hence, increasing investment in facing mental health conditions is required on all fronts—and raising mental health awareness can increase understanding and access to quality mental health care.

While the pandemic has and continues to take its toll on our mental health, events like World Mental Health Day, which took place on Oct 10, 2022, provide us with the opportunity to revive our efforts in improving mental health care by raising awareness and mobilizing efforts in support of the issue. Thanks to digitalization, we can see it happening collectively across the world through social channels and digital platforms like Twibbonize, where we all can play our part in the matter.

Campaigning for mental health awareness

Several Twibbonize campaigns were created to celebrate this day; one that took our attention is the “World Mental Health Day 2022” campaign by Pertemanan Sejiwa.

Pertemanan Sejiwa is an Indonesian-based community that revolves around psychology, nutrition, mental and physical health, as well as self-development. They recently launched a “Talk & Listen” campaign, which they implemented in the campaign’s twibbon frame.

The message behind the campaign focused on the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day: “Make mental health & well-being for all a global priority.” Responding specifically to the pandemic, the campaign invited Indonesian youth to put their mental health at the top of their priority. And for a good reason—the pandemic has put a lot of stress on our mental health, and people globally are now living with related issues like anxiety, stress, and depressive disorders.

As stated by the WHO, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic.

Through the “Talk & Listen” campaign, Pertemanan Sejiwa hopes that the movement can facilitate our need to vent while also promoting the idea that small things, like talking and listening, can lead to bigger impacts on our well-being.

Another campaign that took the spotlight is the “World Mental Health” campaign by the Indonesian Psychological Association (HIMPSI).

Aligning with this year’s theme, the campaign used the “Make mental health & well-being for all a global priority” theme on its twibbon frame and invited all people and psychologists in Indonesia to share their messages and raise mental health awareness by participating in the campaign.

Take part

Ultimately, developing and raising awareness about mental health illnesses could lead us to recognize the signs and symptoms when we’re feeling ‘off’ and seek help when we need it—just as we do with physical illnesses.

When you participate in movements and campaigns for mental health awareness, you can empower and inspire others to do the same. And it can be as simple as picking a campaign frame from Twibbonize that resonates with you.