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World’s first 24hr virtual March for Mental Health calls for greater investment at a time when mental health services are disrupted or halted due to COVID-19 

8 OCTOBER 2020: The world’s first virtual March for Mental Health kicks off tomorrow as part of World Mental Health Day 2020 (10th October) and over the course of 24 hours mental health experts, campaigners, advocates, and people with lived experience from more than 17 countries sharing their stories as part of a global momentum to drive change and investment in mental health globally. A new AR filter on Instagram or Facebook lets people put themselves in the middle of a virtual march (a COVID-19 safe way to march) as it progresses around the world, united in demanding greater investment in, and access to mental health services. 

At a time when new estimates from the World Health Organization show that nine in 10 (93%) countries have seen mental health services disrupted or halted due to COVID-19 and needs increasing, the March will start in Tonga and end in the US during the 24 hour period. People are being encouraged to register to join the March at marchformentalhealth.com, RSVP on Facebook, and then tune into the livestream on Speak Your Mind’s Facebook page starting on 9th October at 00:00 BST and finishing 00:01 BST on 10th October. 

The virtual march will put a spotlight on young people, LGBTQI+ communities, human rights of those with mental illness, dementia, and mental health in emergency crises around the world. Leaders, activists, experts and those providing services will take part including the Vice President of the Philippines, the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Special Staff of the Vice President of Indonesia, Patrick Kennedy, Former US Congressman, Hon. Dr Robert Kuganab-Lem MP of Ghana, former Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, Sri Lankan actress Sangeetha Weerarthne, Nigerian singer and songwriter Hadiza Bell (aka Di’ja), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Human Rights Watch, Alzheimer’s Disease International, War Child (Netherlands), International Disability Alliance, and actor/author Stephen Fry. 

“One of the most powerful ways to create change is for people to stand side by side and send a united message to those in power. During these COVID-19 times, whilst we can’t do this in person, by joining forces in a virtual way we can still send a powerful call to arms because, now more than ever, the world needs to move on, and invest in mental health,” said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth who is taking part in the March. 

Despite close to one billion people across the world having a mental health disorder, very few people have access to quality services due to chronic lack of investment. In low and middle-income countries, over 75% of people with mental health conditions receive no treatment. But this World Mental Health Day, political support and commitments are growing. 

“The things we need to invest in are in front of us. Strengthen our community based mental health services, as well as our mental health services in hospitals. Provide support for those who wish to become mental health professionals. And most of all, encourage others to share their mental health struggles and treat them with acceptance and the dignity they deserve” said Leni Robredo, Vice President of the Philippines. “I have no doubt that with you in lock step with everyone else who shares our values, we will march every day without fail towards a better, more inclusive future.”

Warner Music Asia and its musicians from around the world will join in the virtual March as part of the Unsung Project which involves artists simply narrating their most heartfelt lyrics as they advocate the need to speak your mind to help dispel the stigma around talking about mental health. 

Speaking as one of the artists involved, Nathan Hartono said, “ I’ve definitely struggled to share my own emotions in the past and music has served as a great outlet to express myself. I hope that by opening up on the topic it encourages more people to do the same, and to understand that it’s ok to be vulnerable sometimes and share what might make us feel sad or depressed.” 

As part of coordinated global efforts for World Mental Health Day this week, a #MoveforMentalHealth Challenge was also launched with the World Health Organisation, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health asking people around the world to film themselves moving in any way they like – a dance, a walk, riding a bike, painting a picture, reading a book, or playing a sport – and posting the video using #MoveForMentalHealth on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or What’s App Status. 

“Our world wasn’t set up to respond to growing mental health needs before COVID-19, and it certainly isn’t now. With so many people lacking access to mental health services, now more than ever is the moment to come together as we march to call on the world to move for, and invest in, mental health,” said Elisha London, CEO and Founder of United for Global Mental Health. “Leaders must listen – and respond – with tangible investments required to make sure that everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to when their mental health needs support. And, that the human rights of people with mental health conditions are protected.” 

Note to Editors

Media Contact: Claire Hoffman, claire@unitedgmh.org +44 7977 440353 

  • Sign up to the world’s first 24 virtual March for Mental Health and see full schedule of the March at www.marchformentalhealth.com and #MoveforMentalHealth 
  • The  24 hr Facebook live event will be available to view here starting at 00:00BST on 9th October and ending 00:00GMT 10th October. 
  • The AR filter that will make you feel like you are taking part in a real march, surrounded by others marching and the noise of collective action, is available on Facebook and Instagram (under Speak Your Mind) 
  • Instagram Stickers will also be available on Stories by taping the GIF button in the sticker menu and searching for “Speak Your Mind”. 

About Speak Your Mind 

The 24 hour March for Mental Health is powered by Speak Your Mind (SYM), a nationally-led, globally-united campaign active in 19 countries that calls on governments around the world to invest, empower and educate for mental health for all. Speak Your Mind is about giving mental health a voice for action. We’re calling on leaders to provide quality mental health care for all. It’s time for them to invest, educate, and empower now, for the future we need. @gospeakyourmind www.gospeakyourmind.org 

About #ProjectUnsung

Artists involved in the Warner Music Asia #ProjectUnsung are Aizat Amdan (Malaysia), Rahmania Astrini (Indonesia), Hanin Dhiya (Indonesia), Dough-boy (Hong Kong), D Gerrard (Thailand), Nathan Hartono (Singapore), Young Hysan (Hong Kong), Suara Kayu (Indonesia), Kiiara (USA), Anri Kumaki (Japan), Leanne and Naara (Philippines), Pyra (Thailand), Jasmine Sokko (Singapore), Soleima (Denmark) and St Wolf (Philippines).