Mental Health is Precious: A Message from Curt Goering for World Mental Health Day
By Curt Goering, executive director, Center for Victims of Torture
Today, millions of people around the world are marking World Mental Health Day, an initiative of the World Health Organization. Observed every year on October 10, World Mental Health Day was created to increase global awareness of mental health issues, inspire action in support of mental health and shine a light on the gaps in mental health care. The goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day is increased investment in mental health. And we at the Center for Victims of Torture wholeheartedly support this critically important event, joining with our clients and their families to recognize the right to holistic rehabilitative care, which must always include mental health care.
These are difficult days, enough to test anyone’s mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. COVID-19 infection has reached astonishing levels around the world, as millions have been touched by the virus. Families throughout the world are grieving the loss of loved ones, or struggling to aid those who are ill. The pandemic has had an impact on nearly every facet of daily life: jobs have been reduced or lost completely, schooling has changed dramatically, travel has become difficult if not impossible, and families are separated.
And though this is a tremendously difficult time for all of us, this is not a day to hang our heads. This is a day to draw strength from the resources available to fortify our mental health. From the healers who have worked with clients to forge a new path to wellness. From community members who reach out to ensure that needs are met for those unable to care for themselves or those who are under quarantine. And most of all, from survivors who lead the rest of us by example, in spite of an ongoing pandemic and all the havoc it has wrought.
This is also a day to combat the stigma too often attached to mental health issues and the pursuit of healing. In all of CVT’s locations around the world — Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda and the United States — the work to reduce stigma is constant. Sadly, the response to mental illness is negative in many communities, and many torture and war survivors believe they must bear their trauma on their own no matter how debilitating. Our clinicians strive to help survivors move past stigma and access the care they need and have a human right to. We know that healing is possible: we see healing every single day.
My hope for World Mental Health Day is that every soul who is struggling finds a glimmer of hope, a first step toward healing. Our mental health is precious, something to nurture and to treasure. And something to invest in.