By Veronica Fernandez
The past 18 months have been filled with missed and delayed plans, including the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. As we reflect on the past 18 months, it is evident that the need for us all (even Olympic athletes) to prioritize taking care of our mental health received a gold medal in 2021, with special credit due to Simone Biles. She has shown us that our mental health has to be put above our work, our responsibilities, our social media, and yes—even over winning an Olympic gold medal. We’ve learned to stay home if we feel bad, to seek out professional help, and to proactively reach out to those around us who are having a difficult time as well.
As we prepare to observe World Mental Health Day, we see a world more willing to have tough conversations about anxiety and depression. We see our communities’ influential voices leading these conversations and demanding compassion, change, and resources. On October 10, we celebrate all of the efforts that have taken place this year and recognize all of those who have worked to bring mental health care to all.
At UCLA, we envision a future where we are not afraid to be ourselves, where we openly discuss our experiences with anxiety and depression like any other illness, and where everyone who needs it receives evidence-based support and treatment. Every day the Depression Grand Challenge (DGC) focuses on moving towards this envisioned future. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we released the COVID-19 Care Package in partnership with Beyonce’s BeyGood and Jack Dorsey’s Start Small fund to provide online mental health resources to help people struggling with stress and anxiety brought on or worsened by the pandemic. This year the DGC also launched its STAND for All program making it open to everyone. This program offers free self-guided online lessons to teach participants cognitive behavioral skills for self-management of low mood and anxiety. We encourage those interested to sign up at http://bit.ly/UCLA-S4All-Interest-bg. At the DGC we are committed to help make mental health care for all a reality. Join us in wearing a green pin on World Mental Health Day and working together to pursue this cause each day and beyond.