IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

What is World Mental Health Day? How you can celebrate in 2023

About 65 million Americans live with a mental health condition, but more than half aren't receiving treatment.
/ Source: TODAY

Over the years, TODAY's Carson Daly has shared his experiences with anxiety and panic attacks and the healthy ways he’s learned to tend to his mental wellbeing. That's why he's such a big proponent of honoring World Mental Health Day. But what is World Mental Health Day, and how can you celebrate it?

For the occasion, Carson spoke with Phil Schermer, CEO of Project Healthy Minds, about the importance of mental health.

“It should be as easy to find mental health services in America as it is to book a flight, hotel or restaurant reservation,” Schermer told Daly during an Oct. 10 segment.

But sadly, the need for more robust mental health care is great: About 65 million Americans have a mental illness with about 60% of them not receiving treatment.

“We’re trying to help 10 million Americans over the next 10 years find mental health services,” Schermer said. “Every American across the country is participating in World Mental Health Day because there isn’t a single person of family that is not touched by mental health.”

Why mental health is important?

Mental health conditions can affect people in every aspect of their lives, from work to school to home and other social settings. They can also impact your relationships, which are a key factor in long-term happiness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), annually one in five American adults experience mental illness, with one in 20 grappling with serious mental illness. Mental illness remains complex, NAMI says, with genetics, environment and lifestyle all playing a role. The organization stresses that people who have mental illnesses haven’t done something to cause it, and no one should feel ashamed about having a mental health condition.

What is the purpose of World Mental Health Day?

World Mental Health Day, recognized on Oct. 10 annually, increases awareness of mental health and the role it plays in people’s lives across the world, the World Health Organization says.

The day gives experts and advocates the chance to talk about efforts to bolster access to mental health care and what still needs to be done to assure that all who need it receive good mental health care. Another goal of World Mental Health Day is encouraging people to take the day to reflect on the state of their own mental health, chat about what mental wellbeing means and advocate for better mental health care.

What is the theme for World Mental Health Day 2023?

World Mental Health Day 2023's theme is "Our Minds, Our Rights," emphasizing the importance that “mental health is a universal human right,” according to the WHO. “Mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health," the organization says.

Worldwide, one in eight people lives with a mental health condition, which impacts their physical and social health. Increasingly more children, teens and young adults grapple with mental illness.

Despite the prevalence of mental health conditions, the organization notes that people with mental illness experience discrimination, feel excluded and struggle to receive much-needed care that would help them thrive.

How to celebrate World Mental Health Day?

Project Health Minds offered a spin session, a community run, breathing exercises and a sound bath to help people focus on the connection between mind and body in fostering healthy mental wellbeing. The organization and many others will host conversations about mental health on Oct. 10.

Carson will also be speaking with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and others about social media and young people at the Archewell Foundation Parents Summit.

But the easiest ways to celebrate World Mental Health Day are making time to prioritize your own mental wellbeing — whether that's by taking a mental health day from work, exercising, eating a nutritious meal or doing any other activity that makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated — and simply talking about your mental health candidly. You can post with #WorldMentalHealthDay.

Carson shared how much talking can make a difference for people struggling.

“I’ve noticed since I’ve told my story (that) when one person tells their story, that unlocks 10 other people to tell their story, and that’s the tidal wave waiting to happen in the conversation,” he said.