World Mental Health Day 2020

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World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day to focus on mental wellness and combat stigma against mental health issues. Even during an average year, World Mental Health Day is a significant and valuable undertaking, but in the wake of 2020, an especially challenging year for many, we want to provide a spotlight on this important day, as well as resources and insights from professionals in the mental health field.

What is World Mental Health Day?

World Mental Health Day is observed each year on October 10th, as an opportunity to bring to light the importance of mental well-being, and to draw attention to mental health issues around the world. It was first observed in 1992, and has since become a significant opportunity for individuals to openly discuss their mental health and challenges they face, as well as a chance for professionals in the mental health field to talk about their work and what needs to be done to make mental health needs attainable for people around the world.

This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is hosting the Big Event for Mental Health online at 7:00 AM Pacific on October 10th. It is a three-hour stream event dedicated to global advocacy for mental health, discussing steps that are currently being taken around the world to benefit those struggling with mental health issues, and hear from advocates on what led them to mental health advocacy.

Tools for Mental Wellness

Last year for World Mental Health Day, we consulted with Dr. Gina Alfonso (@ginalfonso), an experienced art therapist, to ask about how art can help improve mental health, and what ways art therapy builds positive mental wellness. Because of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as many other factors that have impacted people throughout this year, mental health concerns and mental and emotional wellness are our focus, rather than on how art specifically can help. While art absolutely can be a force for good when it comes to mental and emotional well-being, it’s also entirely understandable to have less creative energy in the wake of so many emotionally involved events.

In addition to the public mental health resources provided by the WHO, we reached out to mental health professionals for their insight on what steps individuals can take to maintain mental and emotional well-being in the midst of this tumultuous year. Dr. Gina Alfonso graciously spoke with us again this year, and we also reached out to Tristan Scremin from Painted Brain and Angelica Garcia from Project Return Peer Support Network about what struggles people may be facing this year, and how to best handle them.

Does 2020 pose any special challenges to mental health that we should be aware of?

GA: Everyone is dealing with the pandemic in different ways. I’ve had the chance to work with some groups and individuals through this time, and the mental health struggles are real, and across the board. No one has been spared.

Among the most pronounced issues brought about by this crisis are feelings of isolation, sadness, fear, anxiety and overwhelm, and grief. For some, these issues are exacerbated by their home situation, circumstances at work and the corresponding financial challenges, and then there are also, as we know, racial, gender, and equality issues.

TS: Yes, 2020 does pose lots of special challenges to mental health for large numbers of people. First, COVID and the anxiety and isolation that it causes are very real. We have no vaccine, and no fully effective treatment. Also, the number of lives and trauma associated with the loss of lives is very real. The wildfires in the west and throughout the U.S. have added another layer of anxiety and loss, and finally, the civil unrest caused by the police killings of unarmed Black people and people of color have added a further layer of community and social trauma.

AG: People aren’t accessing mental health services as frequently as they need, for a number of reasons. Services have gone remote due to COVID-19 and the social distancing requirements involved, and there are limits to the number of people that mental health professionals can see each day. At Project Return, we strive to stay open for people, but we operate on a remote schedule. For some, the services feel different. Ordinarily, we have a lot of people being seen at the same time, but now we have to make appointments for everyone. We still ensure that everyone gets a 1-on-1 appointment despite the complications, though.

With the ever-changing times, doing things that make us feel better may not be as easy to do because of the circumstances. Balancing work and life outside of it has tested many parents and their well-being, and because of the increased isolation, there’s been an increase in depression and anxiety across the board. On the bright side, there has been more discussion about mental health, which is great, and a big step in the right direction.

What are some healthy ways for people to keep their mental health up despite the need for physical isolation?

TS: Using social networks to stay connected can help folks in these difficult times, as can finding meaningful activities like making art and developing better personal habits. Some people in the Painted Brain community have been using vision boards to take advantage of this time and trying to go inward and better ourselves and make goals for the future. Adapting physical exercise to either do more exercise outdoors or to modify exercise routines for indoor use is also very helpful.

AG: Getting physical exercise is very helpful for mental clarity and mindfulness, and be sure to remind yourself to do something that makes you feel good, be it art, writing, or something else. If you’re not feeling well, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and identify what coping mechanisms are healthy for you so you can ensure you don’t turn to unhealthy behaviors. If you are in need of support, Project Return has increased its online presence, and we provide anonymity and a platform to access and connect with support.

GA: There are many different ways in which people can take care of their mental health. But what’s critical is to have internal anchors to provide the compass for finding ways to care for oneself through this crisis. The Center for Self-Leadership offers eight anchors of the “self,” which all human beings possess, that reflect one’s inherent self-agency (apart from fears, worries, anxieties, etc.): connectedness, courage, calmness, curiosity, confidence, compassion, clarity, and creativity.

With these as your anchors, you can then use these as a guide to develop essential habits that work for you personally. Here are examples of some pillars that can help keep the “self” strong which I developed through the years I’ve worked with various clients and groups, based on what I’ve learned about what has kept them well.

  • SLEEP: Eight hours minimum, asleep by 11:00 PM at the latest, quality sleep between 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM.

  • NUTRITION: Three balanced meals a day. Remember your stomach is only as big as your fist. Do not stuff yourself. Make sure you have enough protein, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Make sure you have enough Vitamin D during the colder months. Drink lots of water.

  • EXERCISE: At least three times a week, 30 min. cardio/aerobic exercise. Do not forget to stretch. Low impact exercises/stretching (e.g. yoga, tai chi, pilates) are a perfect supplement to a cardiovascular workout.

  • QUIET TIME: Make sure to carve out at least five minutes (minimum) to silence your mind and be still, to cleanse yourself emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Use the sense of calm you create during this time as a reference point during the day when you become stressed. You may also want to integrate relaxing movement or stretching during this time. In the evenings, engage in positive visualization before sleeping; envision your best self and feeling peaceful and well. Breathe your body into calm.

  • ORGANIZATION (time and space): Organize your day into sections: morning cluster, early afternoon cluster, late afternoon cluster, evening cluster. When making a weekly standard schedule, plug in the eight pillars first, as these are non-negotiables for healthy functioning. When you are functioning well, you benefit everyone around you. Keep order in your room and your home. Things should have their proper place and be returned there.

  • SOCIALIZATION: Make sure to stay in touch with family and friends. Carve out time for relaxation and healthy conversation. Keep in touch with family and other friends by calling them on the phone or writing letters or emails.

  • EDUCATION/CREATIVITY: Keep your mind sharp by staying in touch with what is happening in the world. Read good books: the classics, especially. Don’t forget to also read the good news. Read about the arts and music; go to a museum, draw, paint, dance, learn a new song, watch a concert virtually.

  • SERVICE: With wellness comes responsibility for those around us. Service can come in the form of having concern for our friends and family members, or it can extend further into volunteer programs, missionary work, etc. During your quiet time, discern where you might be invited to serve given your time, energy, and resources. When you keep the cycle of giving and receiving going, you are putting your love into the world. What you put in, you receive back a hundredfold.

If this year has been difficult for someone, what would be some good ways to empathize with them and to help them do and feel better?

AG: Check in with people. If someone is struggling, you can be a support system for that person at a pace that they’re comfortable with, but if you decide to offer that support be sure you do your part to see them through it. Ask if there are specific ways you can offer support, as well. Being present and listening can make a world of difference, and empathy and understanding is important. Voice that it is okay to feel a certain way, that it’s not unusual, and be mindful of their feelings. If you’ve experienced the issues they’re having, try to help them navigate it, and make sure they know that there’s no need to feel shame about it.


  • Listen to them and give them your full attention. (If this is the only thing you can do, do this.)

  • Give them a glass of water. (They may need this but don’t know it.)

  • Sit with them.

  • Offer them your presence and attunement. Say: “I’m here.”

  • Offer them connection. Say: “I hear you.”

  • Offer them a sense of belonging. Say: “You’re not alone.”

  • At the right time, remind them of their inherent creativity and capacity to get through this.

TS: First, we need to keep as much human connection as possible. We can talk over the phone or reach out via a video conferencing platform. We can find ways to share time together even if it is through technology and not in person, face to face. Also, we cannot forget about each other. Now, community is needed more than ever. Form groups online or join existing groups. Finally, we need to keep in mind that those dealing with loss in all its forms really do need our empathy and solidarity, not our sympathy and judgment. We know that mental health is a real issue for many more people now than ever before, and we also know that there are still those old voices of judgment and stigma. Let us work together and break through all of that.

Putting The Art In Heart

In recognition of World Mental Health Day 2020, we commissioned @joifish to create the artwork featured at the top of this journal. The importance of maintaining mental health is always evident, and we’re tremendously grateful to @joifish for being a part of this project with us. We encourage you to download the art and use it as your Profile banner in observation of the day!

Your Thoughts

  1. What steps have you taken to manage your mental health this year?

  2. Have you found things that consistently help stabilize your mental and emotional well-being? If so, what are they?


This journal and any associated material is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any references to people and/or places mentioned above have been changed to protect their identity and to ensure their privacy.

© 2020 - 2021 team
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I'm very glad that people starting to noticing the helpful and beneficial properties of cannabidiol. At first, I was one of those men who don't want to connect their life with any kind of supplements. Now I fully realized how I was wrong. This CBD has so many benefits that It's impossible to deny the fact, that it can solve health problems. I'm glad that I found it.

I am noticing more and more that there is no good training for employees in our community. We've done team building at work several times, and it was great. Although not everyone returned to the office after the quarantine, many work remotely, but even so the bosses help us maintain a healthy spirit in the team. I took courses along with other new employees. Our company made sure that everyone was comfortable. I think there are such features of working in a team everywhere, but our company is the best in this respect.

It's good that we started talking about such things. It is very important . I like different health apps and websites. You cannot neglect your own mental state, this can cause many problems. I once made this mistake, which I now regret. But I still found a solution. I started reading a lot on this topic, click here if you are also interested in the topic of psychology, through various reviews I found a good specialist. And now I do not need to deal with all these issues myself.

drmelvamitchell's avatar

Amaizing group ! it is important to promote mental health care today

Mental health is very important to maintain. Today in the times of stress, anxiety, responsibilities, Our main resoponsibility to maintain our mental health. The one thing I want to suggest that Just do your best and worry about nothing. Automatically you will get everything you need in life.I am Gustavo Woltmann saying this from my personal experience.

Sarril-Xeoumbra's avatar

Hard to get/find any 'good news', when the world is shit because of shit people (especially here in Poland, politicians basically raping the entire population here... stealing everything, f'ing PIS...)

And hard to get much comunication/social life when you're stuck at home the entire time, and you don't have many(if any...) friends T-T

As well hard to get any 'professional help', when you are stuck at home and aren't rich and there is no good 'free, public' help...

My sleep is often if not always interrupted because of my medical condition which causes me to frequently wake up and need to use bathroom and stuff...

... I'm very depressed, have a ton of suicidal thoughts, if not my faith (christianity) I'd commit suicide long time ago. And I found no help, no support, and have no joy or satisfaction in anything, in life... and my family isn't very supportive if not count only my mother who's very busy... ehh...

I don't know why I'm sharing this...

BaiEr1's avatar

I'm diagnosed with autism, so I've just received government support.

anthony-constantinou's avatar

I avoid taking stress, following negative news and information. I have been focusing on positive things, learning new skills, and doing exercise continuously in 2020.

BluShady's avatar
  1. I talk to my Therapist every Monday, and regularly talk to my friends and family

  2. I have found the sketching and listening to music helps me relax and not stress too much.

KeiraStarlight's avatar
  1. I managed to control new skills of keep staying clam and be brave

  2. I have helped from Mental nurse and she gave me the tools to keep me from being insane.

xxzuritxx's avatar
  1. What steps have you taken to manage your mental health this year? Do not think, sometimes distract ur mind is the best choice i had a big mental problem this year and still stuck sadly

  2. Have you found things that consistently help stabilize your mental and emotional well-being? If so, what are they? read a book, gamming, music and drawing is the most

paramsiddharth's avatar
  1. I have given myself more time, and through the hard times, allowed myself to care less about external love and more about creating and learning.

  2. Yes, I have! Activities like blogging, music production, programming, gaming, cooking, and drawing, and habits like waking up early and exercising make me feel mentally better. :)

CrosslineAnimator's avatar

Initially, I've thought that making art and sharing will help become better. I have trouble finding a job, so I hoped that here I'll be able to make a name for myself, receive some kind of income and probably make some friends, only to be left with nothing once again.

All the friends I had, have long abandoned or forgot me and any attempt of trying to fit into any group only reminds further just how alone I am.

I have attempted suicide several times for the last five years and can't go a day without thinking about it.

And honestly, I don't know what still keeps me going. Maybe a small hope that there is a chance for things will become better.

paramsiddharth's avatar

Hey there! :) I loved the artworks you have created. Would you like to talk, sometime?

drachenmagier's avatar

I most likely can't help and while I would love to be able to predict such things, I can't tell you it will be better. But I'm around a lot during my work day, if you want to chat. :) Might not be much, but no one should have be alone if it isn't by choice. :)

TheOnlyException131's avatar

I'm a little behind in answering your questions but I'm back now to do so! First, let me say thank you for posting such an informative journal for a most important topic! I have taken the steps to seek outside counseling services to assist in the maintenance of my mental health. I find if I consistently pause and give a second thought to my immediate reaction to circumstances my anxiety is lessened, I can communicate more effectively with anyone else who may be involved and my chances of regretting my words or actions is significantly lower!

Hard2thebones's avatar

Have you ever looked at Someone and Wondered,

What is going on inside their Head?

ArtistryAppreciator's avatar

I'm an American...born and raised fully in American society. America views me not as a human being but as a "consumer". This is a fundamental fact about a society that's built upon materialism. American "consumerism and materialism" is probably the main cause of mental illness in America. America wants each American to live a long and healthy life so that we can continue craving...consuming...purchasing...paying money. Advertising mentally programs our minds to be this way. It's unnatural. It all serves to benefit the "hyper-greedy". When we get old, and can no longer pull our own weight, America will try to discard me and others as a useless tax on the collective of consumerism. We abandon our elderly. How cruel and insane is that? Other cultures revere their elderly...but not here in America.

Every year, world organizations gather to publish the "World Happiness Report". For 2020, the USA is ranked 18 out of 153. We are essentially equivalent to the Czech Republic in happiness. Why is this? Does it have anything at all to do with materialism and consumerism? What's more important? Experiences or possessing objects? I come to DeviantArt for the experiences of viewing others' artworks. I don't come here to possess objects. The artworks make me see things from other angles and others' viewpoints. I like to think it does some good for my mental health. I certainly feel like it does.

sultanorang's avatar

This world sucks but I don't want to die.

STEVERICE's avatar

well unfortunately a lot of venues and places to go, travel etc have been closed down due to corona. i felt that i can manage quite well by keeping busy with my everyday work, and routines some of which have been interrupted however. so i worked out how much of my life has been subjectto changes and come to the conclusion that about 40 % of life is affected. mainly travel and movement, but it can be cpmpensated and i m in touch by phone to those who are important and it provides stability. i go on a run in the evenings, and also see a therapist regularly who also gives necessary support, cognitive behaviour therapy and medication, readily available when necessary. my best friends have given me stuff to think about them so i got a heavy engraved belt with the name of bestfriends on it etc. as well as a locked chain bracelet on my wrist so it won t get lost when i get fidgety *#with some engravings on it like name, bloodtype etc.. maybe an iron anklet with symbols etc. i m a bit kinky and also non - binary at times, which makes it more difficult - but my friends and contactgroup keep me in control somwhow. i think it works but i need discipline.i suppose.

ikazon's avatar

40% is certainly a notable amount, but it's good to hear that you're able to keep regular exercise, therapy, and time with friends. I hope that you're able to stay safe and well!

STEVERICE's avatar

unfortunately, there may be another lockdown absolutely necessary because of rising conatgion in many parts of europe. there have been reports of mental stress all over, especially in tight living quarters, possible job problems, home office? i suppose as well. its not for everyone - i.e. 4 kids to kick around and tend to. stress varies. so i m kept worken for everyone i.e. friends relatives etc.around me. it helps for a change to be kinky it keeps your mind off bad stuff - also i m kept in control by most around me and they keep me woke and disciplined. if im late i may get kicked etc., i might even get a gps tag so folks know where i am and don t stray. this is not v nice and straps locked on my right leg.

koleos33's avatar

Start with yoga every morning,then with 10 pushups everyday,later pull ups,fast walking,running,swimming.Your poisture will improve,health too,and it will boost your confidence too.Find food which works for your body,particularly for your sleep.I take 5-6 almonds 3 hours before dinner.Watch comedy movies for better sleep and dreams.I don't drink coffee and I eat less sugar,but one cup of coffee is fine as one banana or some fruit.If you drink coffee,alcohol then let it be on full stomach.Stop talking about what bad happends to you,cause nobody CARES if that last for too long and you live in traumas again and again if you talk about it.Also you will attract people with similar problems and then you will absorb their problems too.It is like never ending circle.Try to act or fake confidence around people,with time you will become confident.Avoid depressive and lazy people as much as you can if you able to absorb other people feelings like empath. It's healthier to be creative alone to learn something new,or go to play sports for fun,avoid toxic people even toxic parents could cause you trouble. It's healthier to play with kids and be on their level by listening their stories and to play with them.Run with them outside or even in your room. It is better to be angry,then depressive,find your own tricks which works for you,let your body move on fresh air,even just for walking around the block.Avoid food with estrogenes and processed foods,even reduce sweets and soda drinks.Eat more vegetables,like tomatoes or what ever is good for your stomach.Watch motivational videos.Recover from innate to others who laugh or laughed to you and humiliate you when you was in bad mental health situation.They will be more and more depressive,when you start to grow again,and they will ask advices from you.Success and your big smile no matter what,is your best revenge.Don't sacrifice your health for any job,what ever client offers you,manage your time.First your health then everything and everyone else;PGood night sleep,healthy habbits and healthy eating is essential for our physical and for our mental health.We are all different,so what works for me it doesn't mean it will work on everybody I still experiment with some foods.Try for yourself,but for most people nuts,vegetables are healthy=P

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