Written by: Zainab Attarwala

Mental Health as a Universal Human Right 

Today, on 10 October 2023, the world comes together to celebrate UN Mental Health Day with a profound message:

“Mental health is a universal human right.”

These words resonate deeply with the essence of what it means to be human. According to the UN, mental health is a fundamental human right. Everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. Yet, individuals with mental health conditions continue to experience various human rights violations. Many face exclusion and discrimination, while others struggle to access the mental health care they need, or worse, encounter care that violates their fundamental human rights. The stigma around seeking mental health support as a sign of weakness, shame, not a “real” problem, etc., prevents people from taking care of themselves. 

The Choice and Impact of Seeking Support and Help: A Sign of Power! 

One of the most powerful ways to advocate for your mental health is to seek help when needed. We understand that seeking help for mental health concerns can be challenging due to stigma, fear, or societal pressure; however, taking that step is an act of profound self-advocacy. It’s a declaration that you recognise your right to mental well-being and you are willing to take action to protect it. 

Seeking help for mental health is not a sign of weakness but a display of strength. It’s an acknowledgement that your mental health matters, and you deserve the best care possible. Therapy and counselling, for instance, offer powerful tools to empower individuals to understand and manage their mental health effectively. It’s a journey of self-discovery, healing, and growth that can transform your life. 

Advocacy Through Action 

By seeking help for your mental health, you are advocating for yourself and contributing to a broader movement to recognise mental health as a universal human right. Your actions inspire others to overcome the stigma associated with mental health challenges and seek the support they need. 

As we commemorate UN Mental Health Day today, remember that mental health is not a luxury but a right. By seeking help and embracing the power of therapy, counselling, and self-care, we declare to the world that our mental health matters. Together, we can break down the barriers that stand in the way of this fundamental human right. 

At The Freedom Hub, our work to end modern-day slavery in Australia underscores the critical importance of mental health. Survivors of this heinous crime and our dedicated volunteers deserve the universal right to well-being. Taking that extra moment to engage in conversations about mental health is part of advocating for your health and others. It helps survivors on their path to healing and supports our team’s well-being. These discussions are integral to our mission, reinforcing the universal right to mental health care, regardless of who you are. In this shared journey towards freedom, prioritising mental health is a testament to our humanity.

Resources for Mental Health Support: 

World Health Organisation (WHO): WHO provides global mental health information, resources, and initiatives.

R U OK?: R U OK? is an organisation dedicated to encouraging conversations about mental health. They promote the simple question, “Are you OK?” to connect and support others. 

Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue is an Australian mental health and well-being support organisation. They offer information, resources, and a helpline for individuals experiencing mental health issues. 

Headspace: Headspace provides meditation and mindfulness resources for managing stress and improving mental well-being. 

BetterHelp: BetterHelp offers online counselling and therapy services.

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*The image was taken from the WHO website and campaign folder here.