- May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, it provides the opportunity to celebrate and reinforce decreased stigmatization of mental health.
- Mental Health Awareness Month also serves to bring attention to the groups most susceptible to mental health conditions, including young women, people of color, and frontline and healthcare workers.
- Thriveworks joins other organizations (including NAMI, MHA, and SAMHSA) in working to raise mental health awareness and provide resources to those seeking information or assistance.
- Mental Health Awareness Month is also the perfect time to perform a mental health check-in with yourself and seek out therapy and/or psychiatric care if you think it might benefit you.
May 1st marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, a 31-day period during which every American is encouraged to put their mental health needs first. It’s also a time when dedicated mental health professionals are recognized for their efforts in offering compassionate care. This month-long focus on the importance of mental well-being offers everyone the chance to better understand how our mental health affects every aspect of our lives—and the lives of others, too.
Significant strides have been made, especially in the past several years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to destigmatize mental health subjects and open the door for wider discussions surrounding mental health challenges and their effects. Mental Health Awareness Month presents the perfect opportunity for each of us to shake free of misconceptions—and for people from all walks of life to embrace and appreciate the need for mental health care.
What’s the Focus of This Year’s Mental Health Awareness Month?
For 2022, several initiatives are being highlighted for Mental Health Awareness Month. As The White House reports, the country is still recovering from the secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: a nationwide mental health crisis that swept the country.
However, as millions grappled with depression, anxiety, and loneliness, there was a bright side to the chaos: Many realized that what they were experiencing was normal, and perhaps even better, that it was treatable. The pandemic cast mental health conditions in a new light. This May, Mental Health Awareness Month offers us a chance to reinforce and celebrate the widespread destigmatization that occurred over the past several years.
That said, Mental Health Awareness Month 2022 does not shy away from the work that still needs to be done. Another focus is on the people and industries that are most affected by mental health conditions; often disproportionately so.
For example, the White House’s Report indicated that in 2021, emergency rooms experienced more than a 50% increase in visits related to suicidal ideations or attempts among young girls, compared to 2020. In addition, Americans of color, specifically American Indians, Alaska Natives, African Americans, and LGBTQIA+ teens and young adults are also experiencing elevated suicidal ideation and attempt rates. Those working in frontline or service industries, particularly in the healthcare sector, are also at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety.
These are harsh realities, but the first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one. Together, we can all work to continue dissolving the stigma that surrounds mental health. In turn, this will help to improve access to mental health care for these communities, and for all people.
Which Organizations Are Participating in Mental Health Awareness Month?
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): This May, NAMI’s theme is “Together For Mental Health” and serves to promote access to mental health care for all.
- Mental Health America (MHA): MHA is working to enhance public knowledge for Mental Health Awareness Month—their focus is on getting “Back to Basics” following the last two years of living in the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA is highlighting the importance of seeking out mental health services, and is bringing attention to federal initiatives funded by the Biden Administration to combat the mental health crisis and prevent substance abuse across the nation. SAMHSA’s goals for May include highlighting the negative effects of substance abuse at all stages of life.
If your school, university, interest group, or employer isn’t recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, they may not be aware that May is the month to do so. You can inquire with your HR department, coworkers, or student services center, explain the importance of Mental Health Awareness Month, and suggest that they participate.
Use May to Prioritize Your Mental Health, Too
Mental health services and the help these services offer wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and diligence of dedicated therapists, psychiatric providers, non-profits, and crisis line workers. Therefore, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to remember and thank those who offer mental health care and empathy to clients in all types of settings. But it’s a time to check in on yourself, as well.
Perhaps this May, you’ll find that you’re ready to seek out therapy. Or maybe you’ll decide to spread awareness for mental health conditions and services on social media, in your professional circles, or in your educational institution. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Month could offer you the chance to seek assistance and better understanding. Remember, don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with a mental health professional if you’re experiencing:
- Chronic stress or anxiety that makes it difficult to accomplish your daily tasks at work, school, or home
- A declining mood that makes you feel drained, angry, or depressed
- Difficulty sleeping, thanks to unwanted thoughts or imaginary scenarios running through your mind
- Conflict or distress due to relationship difficulties with a friend, family member, child, parent, or romantic partner
- Trouble controlling your use of substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs–especially if you’re using them to cope with emotional pain
If any of the above concerns (or other unique situations) are causing you distress, a mental health professional can help. This month is about putting our mental wellbeing first—something we should be doing the other 11 months of the year, too.