10 Ways to Observe Mental Health Awareness Month
Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Since 1949, mental health activists and experts across the country have held this national month of awareness and action to encourage people to take action.
Mental Health Awareness Month provides events, screenings, activities, and more that allow us to learn more, seek help, offer support, and open up our hearts and minds. But, you can also observe this month through the ten following activities.
1. Schedule regular check-ins with your mental health.
Checking in with your mental health regularly can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Moreover, this allows you to reflect on your own mental health.
Meditation and mindfulness practices are examples of such practices, as well as just taking some time to be by yourself and engage in enjoyable activities that help you feel grounded.
Here are a few possible mental health check-ins:
Daily gratitude journaling
Engaging in conscious breathing exercises
Eating less processed foods and more nutrient-rich foods daily
Spending some time outside in nature
Making space for self-reflection and determining your support needs
2. Start a mental health conversation.
Contacting someone who needs your help can seem strange or awkward at first. However, some family members or friends may not feel comfortable asking for assistance. But, simply asking your loved ones how they're doing or if they need to talk can therefore be an effective way to start a conversation.
It is not necessary to take this conversation seriously from the start. In some cases, the other person may not be ready to open up to you. In this case, you could just let them know that when they’re ready, you’ll be there for them.
If someone you love suffers from a mental illness, you can reassure them that you are there to help. And, you can initiate the conversation by asking them how their treatment is going.
“Reading books about mental health struggles can help people feel seen and less alone,” writes Kendra Winchester for Book Riot. “Whether fiction or nonfiction, these works illustrate the wide range of experiences of characters grappling with mental health while trying to get from day to day.”
For Mental Health Awareness Month, Winchester suggests the following books:
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
Broken (In The Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Towes
If you feel that you don’t have the time to read, listen to these suggested mental health podcasts from Healthline.
4. Attend an event in support of Mental Health Awareness Month.
By participating in local or online events involving mental health awareness, you can learn more about the condition and connect with others facing mental health struggles. Across the country, Mental Health Action Day will be held on May 19, where agencies, brands, and organizations will come together to encourage people to seek mental health help.
A youth mental health forum will be hosted by Selena Gomez on the day before by the Biden-Harris administration in partnership with MTV and the Biden-Harris administration.
There are even ways to host your own event, bring friends and community members together to organize a fundraising event, or have a discussion with local mental health professionals.
5. Share information.
A powerful way to spread awareness is to provide information regarding mental health. You could distribute fliers at fundraising events or school assemblies. Ask local organizations if they need help spreading the word about their work.
Social media is a popular platform for raising awareness about mental health. You can do this with just a few social media posts by sharing info like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number.
Please be aware that, if you choose to engage with articles and resources related to mental health online this month, you may trigger the emotions of others. If you post online, you may want to consider adding warnings about content.
6. Volunteer or donate.
Help a mental health organization with your time, talent, and money. Your support can make a difference whether you give a monetary donation to a national nonprofit or contribute your time to a mutual aid fund for a community member with mental illness.
7. Encourage your representatives to prioritize mental health by contacting them.
Your elected officials can be urged to give mental health a priority through your advocacy.
Among the things you can do are:
Ask your governor or mayor to proclaim May Mental Health Month. A sample proclamation is available in a toolkit from Mental Health America.
Send a message to your member of Congress or Senator to let them know that mental health should be a priority in the upcoming midterms.
Share Mental Health America's State of Mental Health In America report with your lawmakers.
8. Let someone else know that they’re not alone.
There is a sense of isolation among people with mental health disorders. Perhaps they feel that no one understands their situation. Even if they know what's wrong, they may be frustrated by their loved ones, who don't really understand.
It's okay to share your experiences in a safe environment if you've experienced mental health issues. Having a social media post that expresses something that you are going through can be supportive to someone else.
You can also describe your journey in the following ways:
Attending a support group for mental health
Sharing your story to the National Alliance on Mental Illness
Opening up to a friend or family member about your experiences or just sending them a quick text checking-in.
Communicating your struggles at work to your colleagues and supervisors and seeking support from them
When you share your story, it shows others that mental illness can be managed. In addition, it encourages others to tell their stories openly.
Again, we will be more able to influence society to prioritize mental health if we raise awareness during this month.
9. Coordinate professional events and initiatives that encourage mental health among employees if you are an employer.
Your work environment must be safe, inclusive, and filled with resources that support employee wellbeing, regardless of whether you host a stress reduction workshop, implement new time-off policies, or host a mental health speaker.
The team over at SnackNation also has 18 ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month at work.
10. Find a therapist.
You can gain valuable insights from a great therapist, gain support and guidance when facing a challenge, heal trauma, and find the tools to live your life to the fullest.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s some advice on how to find the right therapist for you.