5 Ways you can participate in Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness month for a reason. Despite the advancements of mental health research, evidence-based therapy techniques, and improved psychotropic medication, there is still more work to be done. Some people have been fortunate enough to not be directly affected by mental health issues in themselves or their close friends and family and may not know how prevalent they can be. Others may have not been affected by mental health issues until they started experiencing it themselves or perhaps lost someone close to them from suicide and felt hopeless for a better future. Mental Health Month is an effort to promote a more positive, proactive approach to addressing mental illnesses.
Just like we educate people about certain health issues such as breast cancer which in turn drastically reduced the number of people dying of cancer each year, mental health awareness is vital for the community to understand that mental illness is a treatable disease and suicide is preventable. Mental Health treatment saves lives. Here are some simple steps you can take throughout May to help raise awareness for Mental Health issues and be an advocate for the cause that affects millions of people.
1. Get the word out.
This is by far one of the easiest ways to raise awareness about Mental Health issues. Talk to your friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers and really listen to what they have to say about how they feel. If you sense someone is stressed or depressed, let them know that mental health issues are much more prevalent than they may think and there are resources available to them to feel better. No one has to think “that’s just the way it is”, because now you know mental illness is a treatable disease, and people can and do get better.
2. Be open about your experiences.
You may try speaking openly about past or current struggles you have experiences with your own mental health. This can be very encouraging to those who may feel the way you felt, and can see how you have come out on the other side of it, alive and doing well. Sharing your experiences can be a powerful tool in nudging someone to reach out for help and seek treatment too.
3. Educate yourself about Mental Illnesses.
Take some time throughout May to dive into some common mental illnesses and how they can affect people and their behaviors. Also, educate your children about these issues as children mental health issues can start as early as elementary school. When something is fully understood, it suddenly doesn’t seem so foreign or scary.
4. Donate to a mental health nonprofit.
Mental Health nonprofits, such as Day One’s Charitable Mental Health Program, try to help lessen the burden of mental health care on the community and government by providing mental health care directly to people who need it most. While everyone is at risk for mental illness, the most vulnerable population suffering from mental illness are those who cannot afford quality care. By donating to a nonprofit, you know that your dollars will be directly impacting those who would otherwise still be suffering.
5. Leverage Social Media.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be great forums for inspiring people to be open-minded and inquisitive when it comes to mental illness. Perhaps you have a few “followers” or people on you “friends list” that could stand to hear about Mental Health Awareness month because they too need help or perhaps, they are under-educated about the prevalence or treatment options for mental illness. Use your platform to share Mental Health related things through the month of May to break down stigmas and bust mental health myths.