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How to Contribute to Mental Health Awareness

6 simple ways that you can make a difference.

As a mental health therapist, educator, and advocate I have noticed different reactions to Mental Health Awareness Month. Happily and unsurprisingly, I’ve seen my colleagues, sharing and spreading awareness, I applaud you! I have also seen willing and interested individuals who recognize the importance of mental health, want to do more, and don’t know where to start. I applaud you as well! Recognizing mental health is essential is a huge step in promoting mental health overall, however, I hope these tips help you to advocate during Mental Health Awareness month and the days to follow.

Educate Yourself

There are hundreds of mental health concerns, and raising awareness about mental health does not mean you have to become a diagnostic expert. However, it may be helpful to learn general, yet important, information about mental health. You can learn more by attending a course, engaging in meetings, discussing with a mental health professional, or researching reputable online sources.

Helpful topics to increase your mental health knowledge and awareness may include:

Statistics pertaining to the scope and impact of mental health (e.g., NAMI, NIMH ,CDC)

What factors may influence mental health issues

Typical mental health symptoms

How to seek mental health help for yourself, a child ,a family member, a friend, or a colleague.

Start a Discussion

You can use your enhanced awareness to begin to raise consciousness in others as well. Conversations are an opportunity for you to learn and and share your knowledge. This may include finding an active mental health meeting in your community, or starting one of your own.

Say No To Stigma

There are many myths about mental health. These lies can cause embarrassment, shame, guilt, and could build obstacles that cause people to avoid seeking the help they may need. The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s 2018 theme for Mental Health Awareness Month highlights the importance of active dialogue in dispelling stigma. Additionally, you can help by being conscientious of the language you use and the messages you convey about mental health. Be mindful of perpetuating stereotypes, devaluing others, and sharing inaccurate information. Further, if you hear this type of language, perhaps you have the opportunity to open a dialogue and politely dispel the underlying stigma.

Spread The Word

Dialogues are a great start . However, your efforts do not need to be restricted to your local area. Mental health organizations support the use of social media in expanding awareness, promoting mental health care, engaging in important conversations, and contributing to the community. You can spread the word and connect globally through social media. From this angle, spreading the word is easy. Your contribution could be as simple as a post, tweet, or boomerang.

Get Involved

During Mental Health Month there are several opportunities to attend events in person or engage online. Also, your efforts do not need to be limited to May. This may be a good time to plan ahead for an upcoming event or plan one of your own!

Nurture your own Mental Health

Mental health is important every day, but this is a good time to reflect on your own mental health. Perhaps your contribution this month is to advocate for your own mental health. This may begin with considering what you do for self-care. Resources such as the Mental Health America toolkitmay may be useful in assessing your present mental health and setting small goals to help you achieve a balanced, happy life. You may notice that you can’t handle it all alone and that is okay, you don’t have. It may be time to seek the help of a mental health professional or support group connection to begin your mental health journey.