World Mental Health Day 2020

October 10th, 2020


Mental health, according to Princeton’s WordNet, is defined as the psychological state of an individual who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustments¹.  Fortunately, mental health has received better and deserving attention in recent years, owing to ‘facts on the ground’ regarding its influence on overall well-being and the teeming consequences in emotional and behavioural tendencies,  when neglected,  manifesting as mental disorders.


Mental disorders represent a group of disquieting outcomes when the mental faculty balance is disrupted; a global health concern ranked as a leading cause of disabilities in the world, and especially, sub-saharan Africa.² They range on a wide spectrum of functional impairments; from lethargic depressive state to the far-end mercurial manic conditions. These include clinical depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder amongst others.  Their manifestations do not only impact, direly, the physical and psychosocial health of the affected individual but also the cohabitation with and well-being of others in his/her environment. These conditions may also culminate into more devastating events like social ostracism, family rifts, economic disabilities, drug/substance use and, at its crescendo, harm to others or self-harm; suicide.


However, mental health is not only important because of the huge costs its deficiency incurs, but also because it is the bedrock for the social and economical development of the society, where psychosocially balanced individuals interact for societal advancements. Then, it’s equally as expedient to promote mental wellness and vitality among level-headed people much as it is important to care for mental health patients.


The year 2020 has further underscored the importance of this all-roundedness in mental health promotion, given the unprecedented challenges ushered in by Covid-19 pandemic affecting all and sundry in all facets of life. As the coronavirus has claimed above a million lives in 10 months, many have lost their jobs, businesses incurred loss while some closed up, learning was disrupted or isolated for others, inflation rose as never seen, while economies plummet, even world economic superpowers swinged in and out of crisis— all with extant and persistent security challenges and social unrest and a high burden of diseases.


Hence, now more than ever, we are pressed with the need to pat each other on the back and encourage resilience to preserve sanity at such trying times. Also, more need be done for our friends and acquaintances that are in one way or the other challenged with mental health issues. And from this spirit of brotherliness comes the theme of this year’s world mental health day commemoration, stated as: MOVE FOR MENTAL HEALTH: LET’S INVEST.  So, here’s the onus we all bear.


Expectedly, investment in mental health would translate into having national governmental commitment to increase funding for mental health programs and to intensify and incentivize efforts directed towards ameliorating the burden of mental disorders in different locales. But the place of individual participation and organized group engagement can not be overstated. At all levels of the society— family and communities to global citizenry— we must be ready to invest our ‘capital’ into this business of health promotion to achieve our goal in mental health. From interpersonal interactions to organized health campaigns, to research, to policy formulation and implementation, the message of support and encouragement must suffuse the core of our engagements. 


To this end, our IPSF-AfRO family organized a webinar to show us all how and why WE ARE ALL INVOLVED on the occasion of the world mental health day. The lessons learnt from our esteemed speakers, we believe, shall be acted upon beyond the events, into our quotidian activities. As we must know, our African continent carries a heavy burden of mental health and substance use disorders which is also projected to increase by 130% by 2050.³


So, acknowledging that much has been lost to mental health challenges, it’s time to change the narrative and invest into the future, where we shall pride in the happy world we’d created.


Join us on this noble mission, as we advocate healthy living and improve health outcomes across Africa. 



  1. Princeton University WordNet Search web. Accessed via: 
  2. Osman Sankoh, Stephen Sevalie, Mark Weston, Mental health in Africa. The Lancet Global Health: Volume 6, Issue 9; 2018, Pages: e954-e955. 
  3. Charlson FJ, Diminic S, Lund C, Degenhardt L, Whiteford HA (2014) Mental and Substance Use Disorders in Sub-Saharan Africa: Predictions of Epidemiological Changes and Mental Health Workforce Requirements for the Next 40 Years. PLOS ONE 9(10): e110208.