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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Here’s how to celebrate it

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Here’s how to celebrate it

May 1st marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, a time of observance 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. 

Mental Health Awareness Month presents the perfect opportunity for each of us to shake free of stigma and misconceptions and for people from all walks of life to embrace and appreciate the need for mental health care. 

What Month is Mental Wellness Month?

In the U.S., Mental Health Awareness Month (also known as Mental Wellness Month) is typically observed in May. During this month, various organizations and mental health advocates raise awareness about mental health issues and promote strategies for maintaining mental well-being.

This designation dates back to 1949 when Mental Health America (MHA) declared May as Mental Health Month to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness.

Is There a Mental Health Awareness Day?

Yes, Mental Health Awareness Day is observed on October 10 every year. This day aims to raise awareness about mental health issues worldwide and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. It’s an opportunity to educate the public and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, as well as to advocate for better access to mental health services and support.

Why Mental Health Awareness Month Matters

Mental Health Awareness Month holds profound significance for several reasons. First, it serves as a platform to destigmatize mental health issues. Despite significant progress in recent years, misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health persist, often leading individuals to suffer in silence rather than seek the help they need. By dedicating an entire month to raising awareness, communities can engage in open conversations, challenge stereotypes, and foster greater understanding and empathy.

Secondly, Mental Health Awareness Month is instrumental in advocating for improved access to mental health resources and services. Many individuals—especially those from marginalized communities—face barriers to getting mental health assistance, such as financial constraints, lack of insurance coverage, or limited availability of mental health professionals. By spotlighting these issues and advocating for policy changes, communities can work toward ensuring that everyone has equitable access to mental health support. 

Mental Health Awareness Month provides an opportunity to educate the public about mental health conditions and promote early intervention and prevention strategies. Greater awareness can empower individuals to recognize signs of distress in themselves and others, encouraging timely intervention and reducing the risk of mental health crises. Education also plays a crucial role in dispelling myths and promoting self-care practices that contribute to overall well-being.

In essence, Mental Health Awareness Month matters because it fosters a culture of compassion, advocacy, and empowerment. By raising awareness, advocating for change, and promoting mental health literacy, communities can work toward creating a world where mental health is recognized, valued, and supported for all.

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How Do We Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month?

There are many ways individuals and organizations can participate in celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month. Below are just a few examples of how to celebrate: 

  • Events: Mental health organizations, hospitals, and mental health professionals often hold events such as seminars, workshops, and conferences to raise awareness about mental health issues.
  • Campaigns: Mental health awareness campaigns are run by various organizations, social media platforms, and individuals to increase the visibility of mental health issues and promote self-care and mental health support.
  • Fundraising: Mental health organizations often organize fundraising events to raise funds for research, treatment, and support programs.
  • Public education: Mental health professionals and organizations often provide educational resources and public awareness campaigns to help people better understand mental illness and how to seek help.

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. 

Which Organizations Are Participating in Mental Health Awareness Month?

There are many organizations that participate in Mental Health Awareness Month. Some of these organizations include:

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  2. Mental Health America (MHA)
  3. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  4. American Psychological Association (APA)
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  6. American Psychiatric Association (APA)
  7. National Council for Mental Wellbeing (NCMW)
  8. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
  9. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
  10. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Many of these organizations offer helpful, informative resources regarding mental health and wellness year-round.

Here’s How to Use May to Prioritize Your Mental Health

Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health, and prioritizing it can have a very positive impact on all areas of your life. By taking the time to care for yourself, you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever life throws your way.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of Mental Health Awareness Month:

  • Take time for self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and recharge. This could be anything from taking a walk in nature, practicing yoga or meditation, or indulging in your favorite hobbies. If something helps you feel better and more at ease, make sure to schedule time for it regularly.
  • Check-in with yourself: Take time to reflect on your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Ask yourself questions like: How am I feeling today? What are the things that are stressing me out? What can I do to feel better? Pay attention to your inner dialogue and challenge any negative thoughts that might be holding you back.
  • Talk to someone: Reach out to a trusted friend or family member or consider seeking professional help if you’re struggling with your mental health. Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can help you feel less alone and can provide valuable support.
  • Educate yourself: Use Mental Health Awareness Month as an opportunity to learn more about mental health and the resources available to you. There are many excellent books, podcasts, and online resources available that can help you gain a better understanding of your mental health and how to take care of yourself.
  • Take action: Use this month as a catalyst to take action toward improving your mental health. Whether that means scheduling an appointment with a therapist, joining a support group, or simply committing to a daily self-care routine, take steps to prioritize your mental health this month and beyond.

While Mental Health Month is a great reminder to take care of yourself and find ways to improve your mental wellness, mental health is always important. If you start incorporating practices into your life for Mental Health Awareness Month, consider continuing to practice them in your daily life. Why not prioritize yourself all the time? Placing a focus on your mental health can greatly increase your levels of happiness and fulfillment.

After taking time to reflect, if any mental health concerns or conditions are causing you distress, a mental health professional can help. 

  • Clinical writer
  • Editorial writer
  • Clinical reviewer
  • Update history
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Theresa Lupcho, LPCLicensed Professional Counselor
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Theresa Lupcho is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a passion for providing the utmost quality of services to individuals and couples struggling with relationship issues, depression, anxiety, abuse, ADHD, stress, family conflict, life transitions, grief, and more.

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Alexandra “Alex” Cromer is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who has 4 years of experience partnering with adults, families, adolescents, and couples seeking help with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

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Hannah DeWittMental Health Writer

Hannah is a Junior Copywriter at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. Previously, Hannah has worked in copywriting positions in the car insurance and trucking sectors doing blog-style and journalistic writing and editing.

We update our content on a regular basis to ensure it reflects the most up-to-date, relevant, and valuable information. When we make a significant change, we summarize the updates and list the date on which they occurred. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  • Originally published on May 5, 2022

    Authors: Jason Crosby; Theresa Lupcho, LPC

    Reviewer: Alexandra Cromer, LPC

  • Updated on May 1, 2024

    Authors: Hannah DeWitt; Theresa Lupcho, LPC

    Reviewer: Alexandra Cromer, LPC

    Changes: Updated by a Thriveworks clinician in collaboration with our editorial team, adding information about why Mental Health Awareness Month matters, how to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, and how to prioritize your mental health; article was clinically reviewed to double confirm accuracy and enhance value.

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