World Reach Out Together Day: The Impact
The 12-hour series reached a global audience, built and strengthened international professional connections and partnerships, and highlighted a broad range of resources for mental health support.
Reach Out Together’s groundbreaking Global Virtual Mental Health Summit continues to show its impact following the world-spanning panels and performances which drew over 400 attendees worldwide and gave a platform to professional and lived experience alike.
Each panel features its own informal theme. Discussions are moderated and capped off by performances, but the panellists and audience themselves drive the dialogue forward. From discussing the discourse of mental health itself, to its political context, to the key concern of suicide prevention, the comprehensive series sparks a series of ongoing discussions which Reach Out Together’s future work will continue.
The series begins in Australia, with a discussion of the biomedical model of treatment, as well as inequities of access to care. It then moves to Asia, with a focus on the concept of “emotional hygiene”-building lifestyle choices and some new regional initiatives, such as the United Arab Emirates’ “Ministry of Happiness” and associated hotline, 800-HOPE. Africa’s panel focuses on African cultural perceptions of mental health, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways in which individual and community initiatives are working to overcome resource shortages in mental health care (i.e. the Zimbabwe OCD Trust, with which panelist Angelica Mkorongo works). Europe’s panel further tackles the question of what makes a healthy mental health routine, along with how to relate our own experiences in our personal social networks to break the taboo of discussion. South America’s panel focused on that region’s intersection of political struggle and mental health awareness, arguing that resolving other political conflicts is a key step toward opening space to discuss mental health. Finally, North America’s panel discusses a defining issue for the event: suicide prevention, with a focus on the question of how to encourage those at risk to reach out for help.
Performances ranging from yoga, to a meditative “sound bath”, to a range of musical styles cap off each continent’s two-hour window.
Also featured are video messages from Face of Humanity, a non-profit organization focused on emergency aid and relief throughout the world. Specifically, winners of a “Miss Face of Humanity” contest, who then spearhead local projects, shared their thoughts on the impact of World Reach Out Together Day.
Since the event wrapped up, Reach Out Together has been hearing stories of its impact. One attendee spoke of rejecting suicidal thoughts, ripping up a note left to say goodbyes, and beginning a journey of seeking treatment. Others spoke of projects in their school to promote mental health awareness.
Aalia Lanius, founder of event sponsor and partner Unsugarcoated Media and the moderator for Europe’s segment, sums up the event and its message for anyone, anywhere, struggling with mental health:
“Every place in this world struggles…Let’s keep the ball rolling.”
Speakers and performers from World Reach Out Together Day 2020 are being invited each week for a one-on-one interview with Reach Out Together founder Aanchal Vashistha, to further explore the topics they talked about along with their personal stories. These can be watched live via Instagram on Fridays at https://www.instagram.com/rotambassador/ .
About Reach Out Together:
Reach Out Together is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization empowering people to improve their mental health, break stigma, and work toward recovery through educational and interactive programs and events. Reach Out Together has hosted outreach events across the world, from Toronto to Mumbai. Its vision for them is to make Reach Out Together the largest global network of mental health advocates.