November Mental Health Days
November marks the end of the fall season with orange-yellow crunchy leaves on pavement, pumpkin spice, gray, rainy skies, colder weather, and holidays like Thanksgiving and Veterans Day. It is the precursor to winter, the end of the year, and the holiday season with key themes like gratitude and family being intertwined with the essence of the month. Similarly, mental health is also highlighted during November, with World Kindness Day, Anti-Bullying Week, and International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day being celebrated around the world.
World Kindness Day (November 13, 2021)
Recognized as an NGO by the Swiss government in 2019, the World Kindness Movement’s efforts stretch back to the Tokyo Convention in 1997 where multiple countries pledged to encourage kindness in their society. At that time, the movement’s inception began with the declaration to “pledge to join together to build a kinder and more compassionate world” and helped start World Kindness Day. Although hoping to gain an official status from the United Nations, the day is internationally celebrated on November 13 by various countries such as the U.S., Australia, Japan, Canada, and more. Spreading kindness through small gestures and focusing on the positive aspects of our community are its purpose, as kindness has multiple health and societal effects such as lower blood pressure and fostering unity.
You can participate in this day by performing at least three acts of kindness, giving hugs, taking time for self-care, volunteering at a park clean-up, helping a stranger with directions, and more!
Anti-Bullying Week (November 15 - 19, 2021)
The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) has organized Anti-Bullying Week, which will be kicking off with Odd Socks Day where unique socks will be worn to celebrate our differences. This year’s theme is One Kind Word. Started in 2002, this annual UK event draws participation from 80% of the nation’s schools to combat bullying in classrooms. Statistics have shown that cyberbullying has affected 17% of youth and 30% have been bullied within the last year, leading children to experience serious effects such as obesity, mental health issues, unstable relationships, and more.
ABA has drawn support from the UK's parliament, news, and social media. New coverage about the week is estimated to have reached more than 156 million people, and social media hashtags (#AntiBullyingWeek) have been trending on Twitter during the event. Influencers like Victoria Beckham, Emma Willis, Gemma Style, and more have also promoted the cause on their platforms.
You can participate in this week by checking out ABA’s website and getting involved in their organization. You can sign their pledge, peruse through their resource guide, nominate a member of your school staff for an award, buy merchandise, get involved on their social media, and look at their previous impact.
International Survivors of Suicide Day (November 20, 2021)
From the Greek and Roman Empires to Western society, suicide has been prevalent and often a taboo topic, with many governments condemning it through legislation in an effort to decrease the suicide rates. From 1950 to 1980, and increase in suicide rates for youth doubled and tripled in the U.S., affecting mainly young white males. Now the 10th leading cause of death, there are an estimated 1.3 million suicide attempts and 400,000+ suicide deaths annually. In 2019, groups mostly at risk were men (with a 3x rate compared to women), white people (15 deaths per 100,000 people), American Indians/Alaska Natives (13 deaths per 100,000 people), middle aged adults (19 deaths per 100,000 people), and LGBT youth. Nearly 50% of the U.S. has known someone who has died by suicide, and, on average, every 11 minutes, one person dies by suicide.
International Survivors of Suicide Day was passed as a resolution in 1999 by U.S. Senator Harry Reid who lost his father to suicide in 1972. Many people who commit suicide often have an underlying mental condition, highlighting the importance of starting taboo conversations. This day is important to remember the victims, connect the community, and pay attention to survivors/at-risk groups.
You can observe International Survivors of Suicide Day by becoming a suicide prevention advocate, keeping a journal as a healthy coping mechanism, and attending a local grief support group. Check in with those close around you, and be mindful of your impact on people.