Buckle up folks, it’s Mental Health Awareness Month and we’re holding nothing back! Let’s start off by stating the obvious, mental health awareness is important and therefore worth celebrating. Yes, you heard that right. We should all celebrate mental health awareness month. Why? Because to celebrate means to support people you know are struggling, to encourage conversation about the stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health disorders, and to prioritize your own mental health more than ever. May is the time to do the work, educate ourselves, fight stigma, and raise awareness about mental illnesses. It’s also a prime time to highlight the importance of overall mental health and wellness for anyone and everyone.
Mental Health America set this year’s theme as #Tools2Thrive for Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s meant to ignite everyone to reach for practical tools to improve their mental and behavioral health. We think celebrating this important month should include the use of tools that help us honor our wellbeing. And let’s face it, over a year of pandemic life has us all a little crazy. So taking some intentional time to focus on mental health is just what the doctor ordered. Keep reading for a list of ideas for how to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.
How To Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month
Recognize mental health as a serious issue.
Okay, now it’s time to get serious. We can be cheeky, but mental health is a serious issue all over the world. Your attitude towards your own mental health and other people with mental illness has a deep impact on everyone around you. If you make wellbeing a priority, it can encourage others to do the same and to open up about their own struggles. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 US adults experiences mental illness each year. Moreover, Mental Health America stated that 18% of US adults suffer from mental health issues. That is 44 million adults.
It’s a scary big number, one that shows the silent effect of these conditions on our society. It affects all of us, even if you haven’t directly experienced a mental health disorder. That is why we must celebrate mental health awareness. We have to spread the word, fight stigma, get disruptive, and strive for change within the healthcare system. We all deserve to cheer on our mental wellbeing.
Prioritize your own mental health & wellness.
This one is a given. You can’t support those around you if you’re not in the right headspace yourself. If you’re going through a hard time, do what you need to do to cope. If you’ve been in a negative or difficult headspace, seek help. Overall, focusing on your own mental health can be as simple as creating habits that help you feel your best. Also, remember it’s okay to take mental health days from work, study, or just random commitments. You are your own priority!
Here’s an episode of Real Pod with Victoria Garrick that discusses these kinds of habits: Dr. Daniel Amen: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life & The 7 Habits of Happiness.
Schedule some self-care.
Self-care is mental health care. So May feels like the ideal time to put self-care at the top of your to-do list every single day. A self-care routine can help balance your day and keep your mind at ease. It doesn’t have to be anything too sophisticated, though! You can simply wake up and make your bed, brush your teeth, wash your face, & get ready for the day. Or something more sophisticated like getting a massage or a workout in. You can start a gratitude journal, do a few morning affirmations, meditate five minutes a day, or move your body in a fun way. The key to self-care is to create a system that works for you and makes you excited for that special moment.
Educate yourself on the topic of mental health.
Research on mental health is constantly evolving. Experts are learning more and more everyday, and so can you! Simply set aside a little bit of time to learn about issues related to mental well being. You can read the latest studies and news articles, read books, watch documentaries, and ask around for help or guidance. Here is a great list of streamable documentaries on mental health you can watch right now if you want! Pick what works best for you and keep your mind open. There are many ways you can educate yourself on the topic of mental health.
Spark conversations about mental illness.
Many people shy away from conversations about mental health issues. This stands in the way of those who try to raise awareness around these topics. Don’t be one of those who shy away! Ask your friends and family how they are feeling about their mental wellbeing. Share your own personal mental health struggles with your loved ones. Spread the word about the challenges that come with these issues. Maybe fight the stigma against high-functioning anxiety. Just be brave and talk about mental health. It all helps.
Donate to the cause.
If you feel called, there are thousands of mental health organizations that could really use our help. Consider making a monetary donation – no matter how big or small, everything counts. Here is a list of the leading charities and organizations that you could support this Mental Health Awareness Month.
Share mental health awareness information on social media.
Social media might come under fire for its own connections to mental health issues, but it sure helps to raise awareness around a multitude of causes. One tweet or Instagram post can spread the word about mental illnesses to far more people than a single conversation. If you see a post that contains valuable information about Mental Health Awareness Month, repost it on your story. Send it in a DM to someone struggling. Pin it, or give that tweet a retweet. If you’re willing to, you can even share your own personal experiences with mental health on social media. You never know who will find it, it might help someone else struggling.
Support people with mental illnesses.
If you know someone who is struggling, reach out to them. Ask if they’re okay, if they need anything, or want to talk. Let them know you are open to listening to what they have to say and see where you might be able to help. Remember, you don’t have to be their therapist. If their mental health condition is untreated, urge them to seek professional advice. And if they’re currently working on their mental health, ask how you support them in their journey.
Also you can learn more about ways to cope during these tough times by listening to the following episode of Looking Up with Dr. Deepika Chopra: Learning to Cope with Mental Health Advocate and Founder of PYM, Zak Williams.
Volunteer at a Mental Health Organization.
If you’re a hands-on kind of person, volunteering is the perfect way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. It allows you to step into the scene and educate yourself with the guidance of those more experienced with mental health. If Covid restrictions make it complicated for you to volunteer in person, you can always ask your preferred organization if they would be willing to take you in as a remote volunteer.
Listen to podcasts on mental health.
Podcasts entertain and educate us. Plus, listening to a podcast might already be a part of your daily routine. They are a great platform for discussing hard topics. So why not learn more about mental health disorders by listening to podcast hosts and guests get vulnerable, share their experiences in a conversation, and you get to listen in as well. There are many to choose from, so below are links to a few podcasts that regularly discuss health:
- The Art Of Being Well with Dr. Will Cole
- I Love You So Much with Kenzie Elizabeth
- Pretty Smart with Danielle Robay
- Looking Up With Deepika Chopra
- Real Pod with Victoria Garrick
- Recovering From Reality with Alexis Haines
Fight the stigmas.
Nobody enjoys feeling stigmatized. Mental health Awareness Month is all about breaking the stigmas surrounding mental illness. How can you help? First, keep your mind open and check in with yourself to spot where you might actually be falling into the stigmatizing habit. Second, speak out about it. Maybe write a post about your friend who is struggling, or about your own issues. Lastly, be ready to explain to a lot of people that not a single mental health disorder looks the same as others. Everyone’s battle is unique.
Set those boundaries once and for all.
Not setting proper boundaries at work, with family, in romantic relationships, or even in your day-to-day life can lead to serious mental health issues in the long term. Put an end to the situations that make you feel stressed, angry, or out of control of your own existence. Say no to events that aren’t a true priority. Limit time with toxic or energy draining people in your life. Set boundaries, learn how to confidently say no, and grow into your most unapologetic self during this month.
Learn more about setting boundaries in this episode of The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast with Lauryn Evarts and Michael Bosstick: Nedra Glover Tawwab On How To Set Boundaries & Find Peace, A Guide To Reclaiming Yourself.
Check in with your loved ones.
Socialization is an essential part of being human and incredibly important for mental wellness. So check in with your people, you know who they are. The ones that make you feel loved, make you laugh, that give you energy instead of drain it. Especially after this crazy past year, the people we love are EVERYTHING. Nurture your relationships by checking in with loved ones. Ask how they are holding up, propose to meet for coffee, drinks, or hop on Facetime with a glass of wine. Choose what makes you feel best when checking in with special people in your life.
Also if you want to learn more about the importance of being part of a community, listen to this episode of Recovering From Reality with Alexis Haines: Ep. 73 Surviving on connections with Dr. Carder Stout.
How are you celebrating mental health awareness month?
So who’s ready for some mental health month celebrations? Those are our favorite ways to get serious and intentional about May, Mental Health Awareness Month! May is the perfect time to reflect, educate ourselves, fight stigma, and raise awareness about mental illnesses. Remember, you don’t have to struggle on your own. Also if you think you might be suffering from a mental or behavioral disorder, seek professional advice.
With that, we are off to put our mental health tools to good use and celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month by putting ourselves and our loved ones first. We invite you to do the same and spark the conversation about mental illness this month. If you are planning to celebrate in any of the ways we mentioned, leave us a comment down below – we love to hear your stories!