Since 1949, May has served as Mental Health Awareness Month. This month-long campaign is centered around increasing awareness of mental health issues of all types, reduce the stigma surrounding these conditions, and share resources to help people manage, live, and heal in the wake of mental illness.
A number of mental health organizations have launched campaigns in 2018 to help foster a sense of community for people across the country.
Mental Health America: Fitness #4Mind4Body
Founded in 1909, Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illnesses and promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Through collaboration with numerous affiliates and promoting education and outreach, MHA utilizes its large network to make mental illness a less taboo subject. For Mental Health Awareness Month 2018, they chose the theme Fitness #4Mind4Body. The goal of this theme is to promote the importance of both physical and mental health, as the two are often deeply related. Their more in-depth toolkit can be viewed here—but for the more casual participant, tagging pictures or posts with #4Mind4Body can help them connect with others taking part in the challenge.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: #RealConvo
Established in 1987, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death. This Mental Health Awareness Month, they’re turning their focus on promoting people having #RealConvo about mental health. According to a recent poll, 89 percent of people believe mental health is just as important as physical health—but aren’t sure how to have a productive conversation about it. The AFSP has provided resources to help people across all walks of life to have more helpful, healthy conversations, including:
- Parents with teenagers and young adults
- Teachers, administrative staff, and other educators
- For individuals dealing with their own mental illness
In fact, they’re taking the conversation to social media as well—on Wednesday, May 16th, AFSP invites anyone who wants to get involved to share a picture of themselves on social media holding a sign that says “You can have a #RealConvo with me.”
National Alliance on Mental Illness: #CureStigma
Started in 1979, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Through education, advocating, and leadership, they hope to improve conversation surrounding mental health. Their theme this year is #CureStigma—but why? Because the stigma surrounding mental health is incredibly toxic to individuals, as it creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents people from seeking treatment. NAMI has a large library of resources for those who wish to get involved or speak to like-minded individuals, which can be found here.
Regardless of whether you or a loved one chooses to participate in Mental Health Awareness Month through one of these campaigns or in another way, taking stock of one’s mental health is key to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just a priority for one month out of the year, but something that should be a focus during the other eleven months as well.