Mental Health Month

Since 1949, May has been observed as national Mental Health Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health, including disorders and the role of mental health care.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about one in five Americans is affected by a mental health issue each year. Despite this prevalence, these disorders still carry stigmas that can prevent people from seeking proper treatment.

Mental Health Month attempts to break down these stigmas by providing the public with education about proper mental health services as well as information on how to access mental health care services. Each year, this month is observed through a particular theme, and this year’s is “Pathways to Wellness,” which focuses on improving public mental health attitudes through media exposure, local events and health screenings, and emphasizes the connection between mental and physical wellness. Key messages related to holistic wellness include:

 

  • Wellness is an important part of our everyday lives. It is about making yourself healthy and maintaining a lifestyle to keep you fit.

  • Wellness is about mental and emotional well-being just as much as it is about physical fitness.

  • Overall wellness includes taking care of ourselves when it comes to stress reduction, a balanced diet, regular exercise, proper sleep, positive self worth, healthy coping skills, emotional awareness and strong relationships with family, friends, coworkers and community.

  • Mental health should be approached in the same way as physical health, with regular checkups and screenings.

  • Focusing on and embracing a complete concept of wellness will help us to become successful in all areas of our lives. Those who take care of their mental health as well as their physical health will lead more productive, healthier lives and pass those ideals onto their children.

 

Important Dates During Mental Health Month

 

  • May 7, 2013 – National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

  • May 8, 2013 – Mental Health First Aid Training

  • May 15, 2013 – Military/Veteran Mental Health Awareness Day

  • May 22, 2013 – Congressional Discussion on Youth Suicide/Mental Health in America

 

Getting Involved in Mental Health Month

There are a number of ways that social workers can get involved in Mental Health Month. This month is all about raising mental health awareness, and social workers can accomplish this individually with their clients or on a larger scale by organizing an event. Additionally, materials are available online that can be downloaded and distributed to clients or within local communities. Mental Health America also offers a daily calendar of wellness tips that mental health professionals can reference.

By visiting Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month page, you can access their complete Mental Health Month Toolkit for 2013. Media materials contain a press release, drop-in article, and sample mayoral proclamation. The toolkit also offers useful factsheets, including “What is Wellness?”, “Understanding the Social Determinants of Health,” and “Addressing the Social Determinants of Health,” all of which can be downloaded for use with clients, coworkers and communities. The website also offers other materials to help you develop and promote your very own Mental Health Month events. Join the conversation and spread the word on Twitter by using the official Mental Health Awareness Month hashtag: #MHM2013.