It may well have slipped you by, but it’s World Mental Health Day today, organised by the wonderful folk over at the World Health Organisation.
Each year they come together to promote open discussion of mental health issues, and generally make the topic a little less of a taboo.
With mental health encapsulating a whole range of issues from disease to disorder, the day is set up not only to make discussion about the events more accessible, but to encourage governments to invest in their infrastructure to deal with these issues. So far today, the armed forces have already announced a new campaign to tackle mental health issues among their employees.
Action for Happiness is a movement, set up with the intention of bringing people together to create a happier society. Recent studies show that mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, that depression affects 1 in 5 older people and self-harm statistics here are one of the highest rates in Europe. Not only that, but only 1 in 10 prisoners have no mental disorder. Action for Happiness believe that we should all be working to eliminate as much misery as possible from society, and that if everyone made that their goal we’d radically improve societies.
Rather than some far-off dream, the group has already got a following in 118 countries, and they’re informed by scientific ideas as well as sociological ones. There’s a 50-strong series of actions so far on their website designed to improve your own happiness and that of people around you. Everything is in bite-size chunks, so it really is possible to bring it together into your day rather than feeling like you have miles and miles of information to try and plough through and digest.
But why happiness? As well as the obvious, happiness is also shown to significantly improve physical health, and makes for a more fulfilled existence. Happiness as a philosophy for better communities dates back to Frances Hutcheson in the 18th century, who described the best society as the one that had “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”
Action for Happiness has a York group as well as two Leeds ones. YorKind is an action group to help the people of York find, sustain and promote happiness, while Positive Psychology Leeds is all about personal development, spirituality and related subjects. Self Esteem and Happier Lives also meet in our neighbouring city, and they look at ways of increasing skills in positive thinking, relationships and personal development.