The World Health Organization has set October 10 to be observed as World Mental Health Day every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues.

This is part of the effort to mobilise support for highlighting mental health issues all over the world, and is an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental healthcare a reality for people worldwide.

This year, the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) is organising the World Mental Health Day Essay Competition for Malaysians.

The main aims of the essay competition are to educate and better create awareness of mental illness, promote early detection and treatment of mental illness and promote better acceptance of mental illness as well as destigmatise mental illness.

The stories should be able to inspire hope for the mentally ill, their families and their caregivers.

The competition is open to persons with any major mental illness, or caregiver of a person with chronic mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.

The language used in all essays must be English, and the length of the essay should be from 600 to 1,000 words.

Competition is open from May 1 and shall be closed on Sept 30, 2015.

Submissions after the closing date will not be accepted.

Essays shall be based on original work, and all submissions will be checked for plagiarism. Plagiarised submissions will be disqualified.

The essay you submit should be about your story on your struggle with mental illness or your experience caring for someone close to you with mental illness.

The story should be aimed at creating better awareness on early recognition of the illness, educating the public to be more positive in their attitudes towards mental illness, dispel misconception/stigma related to mental illness or inspire hope for those who are mentally ill or their caregivers.

Details of the competition is publicised in MMHA’s website and bulletin, as well as at their public exhibitions or educational activities.

Essays should be submitted together with a competition form, which will be available online (mmha.org.my).

Submissions can be online (mmha.org.my) or by mail to the Malaysian Mental Health Association, 8, Jalan 4/33, Off, Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya, 46000, Selangor, Malaysia.

The panel of judges will comprise a representative from MMHA, Kimberly Lim from the Mental Health Movement, a caregiver of a mentally ill person, and a member of the public.

Judging will be focused on the message of the story – its educational and inspirational appeal, and any unique feature that gives a new perspective to the understanding of mental illness, whether from the person who is sick or the caregiver.

Ten essays will be shortlisted for prizes and two of the winning essays will be published in a major English daily in conjunction with World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2015.

Prizes worth a total of RM 10,000 will be given to the selected winners – first prize of RM 5,000; second prize of RM3,000; 3rd to 5th prize of RM 500 each; and 6th to 10th prize worth RM100 each.