May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Everything You Need to Know

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June 12, 2024 at 3:41PM UTC

When is it?

May is designated as Mental Health Month.

The why behind the holiday and the history of its observance.

In 1949, the National Association for Mental Health (now known as Mental Health America), first observed Mental Health Month to raise awareness around mental health. Each year, Mental Health America generates marketing and outreach materials with the goal to educate and inform millions of Americans about mental health issues. 
Every year has a theme to shape the month's observance. For instance, in 2012 the message was healing trauma's invisible wounds. In 2019 (as well as 2018), the theme centers around fitness for the mind and body. 

How to observe Mental Health Month.

If you work in human resources or in a management role in your company, you can shape how your organization observes this month. Mental Health America provides a number of ideas, including:
1. Share how you balance your personal and professional life and learning from the community (facilitated with the social media tag #4mind4body). You could facilitate a grassroots effort around this theme and host a lunch and learn or small working groups where coworkers share how they find (or struggle) with work-life balance. 
2. Highlight the importance of social connections and recreation. According to some studies, loneliness can cause the same amount of damage as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Does your work have a recreational sports league (kickball, anyone?) or a book club, craft club or other social activity? If not, consider starting one.  
3. Connect with animal companionship. Mental Health America points out the emotional support pets provide. While not everyone has the space or time for a furry friend, consider volunteering at an animal shelter or check out a cat cafe. 

Key Messages

The messages are from Mental Health America's media materials kit and available for organizations to use as they wish:
"Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. 
• A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions. 
• For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health. When dealing with dueling diagnoses, focusing on both the physical and mental health concerns can be daunting – but critically important in achieving overall wellness. 
• Humor, spirituality, recreation, animal companionship, and work-life balance are important for everyone, but may be of special importance to people also living with chronic health conditions and those who care for them. 
• Finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk, meditating, playing with a pet, or working from home once a week can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally healthy. 
• The company of animals – whether as pets or service animals – can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to recover from illnesses. A pet can be a source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives. 
• Sometimes life is far from funny but finding humor in a situation can lift moods with laughter and help people to better deal with and overcome difficult experiences. • Whether you go to church, meditate daily, or simply find time to enjoy that cup of tea each morning while checking in with yourself – it can be important to connect with your spiritual side in order to find that mindbody connection. 
• Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. • Finding the balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental health, can help you on the path towards focusing both #4Mind4Body."

What is Mental Health Awareness Day?

There isn't a Mental Health Awareness Day, but there is World Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th. This day, organized by the World Health Organization is recognized as an opportunity to raise awareness for mental health issues, worldwide. 

What is Minority Mental Health Month?

Established in 2008, Minority Mental Health Month is observed during the month of July.  
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the resolution designating the month's theme with the following goal in mind: "to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the U.S.," according to Mental Health America.  
The official name for the observation is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, named after the co-founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

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