8 Ways to Support Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month emphasizes the importance of mental health and well-being. 

This month is a reminder to advocate for mental health awareness, understanding, and treatment to inspire positive change for yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Read on to learn more about Mental Health Awareness Month and how each action you take — no matter how small — is a testament to the power of collective awareness and support. 

About Mental Health Awareness Month

Every May, Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) emerges as a symbol of hope, a call for understanding, and a platform for change.

Established in 1949 by Mental Health America (MHA), this month-long observance sheds light on mental health issues that often go unnoticed. 

Its key messages focus on:

  • Breaking down barriers to treatment
  • Encouraging compassion
  • Sparking conversations about building inclusive communities for mental well-being

With the green ribbon as a symbol of hope and renewal, MHAM brings people together to fight against mental health stigma and create a future where everyone feels supported.

Throughout May, various mental health providers organize events and activities to raise awareness about the importance of mental health support systems. 

This allows individuals, groups, and communities of diverse backgrounds to come together and talk openly about mental health.

Top 8 Ways to Support Mental Health Awareness Month 2024

Mental Health Awareness Month offers you the opportunity to discuss mental health conditions and share helpful information about the importance of mental health care with your community. 

Even small actions can have a significant impact on raising awareness and promoting mental wellness.

Here are eight practical ways you can contribute to Mental Health Awareness Month in 2024:

1. Share Crucial Mental Health Information

Sharing mental health information is a powerful way to raise awareness and educate others. 

You can do this by using social media platforms to post informative articles, graphics, and statistics related to mental health. 

Also, consider sharing resources with your loved ones through direct messages or texts. This ensures that the information reaches those who may need it most. 

Remember, credibility matters. Stick to research-backed information from credible sources, like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which provides downloadable resources for each week of the month. 

2. Recognize Mental Health Issues of Different Groups

Mental health problems can affect people from all walks of life. That’s why understanding the challenges different groups may face is essential for creating inclusive support networks. 

Older adults, young people, veterans, caregivers, parents, and many more groups may experience distinct mental health issues. This can be often influenced by societal expectations, life transitions, or past experiences. 

That’s why raising awareness about these issues during Mental Health Month can highlight the diverse nature of mental illness. It opens the door to meaningful conversations and advocacy efforts for change.

3. Start Conversations about Mental Health

Starting conversations about mental health with your family members, friends, and online communities can build awareness and challenge mental health stigma. 

Knowledge is power, but people can’t offer support if they’re not aware of the struggles others may be facing. 

By openly discussing mental health, you can normalize the conversation and create a supportive environment where people feel comfortable sharing their experiences. 

These conversations not only provide a platform for support but also contribute to building empathy, understanding, and a sense of community around mental and behavioral health.

4. Avoid the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Issues

Stigma about mental health can sound like language that invalidates, silences, or perpetuates negative stereotypes about people who face mental health challenges. 

Examples of this can include:

  • Stigmatizing: Referring to someone with a mental health condition as “crazy” or “insane.”
  • Stereotyping: Assuming that people with serious mental illness are violent or dangerous.
  • Blame: Holding people solely responsible for their mental health struggles without acknowledging societal or environmental factors.

Be mindful of the words you use and how they may affect others’ perceptions of mental health. 

By consciously choosing your words and fostering respectful dialogue, you can reduce stigma and create a more supportive environment for everyone.

Here are examples of how you can challenge those stigmas:

  • Using person-first language (“person with bipolar disorder”) instead of labeling people by their diagnosis (“bipolar person”).
  • Sharing stories of resilience and recovery to show that mental health conditions do not define a person’s worth or capabilities.
  • Providing empathy, understanding, and nonjudgmental support. 

5. Give to Mental Health Organizations

You can support the initiatives of MHAM by directly helping mental health organizations. 

Your help can look like:

  • Donations
  • Participating in mental health awareness campaigns
  • Sharing events with your loved ones
  • Establishing partnerships with these organizations to bring their support services directly to your community
  • And more

Whether you or a loved one are struggling with substance use disorders, mental illnesses, or co-occurring disorders, various organizations are here to help. 

Some include:

  • SAMHSA is a leading agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They focus on improving mental health services and promoting behavioral health equity to Americans. They also offer a 988 suicide & crisis lifeline that you can call or text 24/7 when faced with a crisis. 
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the largest grassroots mental health organization in the U.S., provides advocacy, support, and education to people affected by mental illness and their families.
  • The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) is dedicated to understanding, treating, and preventing mental illness by funding innovative research in the field.
  • The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth. They offer 24/7 support via phone, text, and chat. They also offer educational resources and advocacy to foster mental wellness in the community.

6. Reach Out to a Friend Who’s Battling Mental Issues

If you know someone who may be struggling with mental health issues, reaching out with empathy and understanding can make a world of difference. 

Look out for signs like:

  • Withdrawal
  • Changes in behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Expressions of hopelessness 

Simply letting them know you’re there to listen, validate their feelings, and support them can be a lifeline during challenging times.

You can also encourage them to seek help from reputable and compassionate mental health professionals or offer to contact someone for them if they are open to it. 

7. Get Mental Health Help for Someone in Need

Supporting someone who needs mental health help can make a difference in their lives. 

This could look like:

  • Listening to them without judgment
  • Helping them find resources like support groups or hotlines
  • Accompanying them to counseling sessions

Yet, when offering this support, remember to set boundaries and avoid enabling or harmful behaviors. You can be there for someone while encouraging them to take proactive steps toward their own well-being. 

Remember, it’s okay to seek guidance from professionals or support groups if you’re unsure how to best help someone in crisis.

8. Pay Attention to Your Own Mental Health

While supporting others is important, it’s equally important to prioritize your own mental health.

Here are ways you can do that:

  • Incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine, like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, regular physical activity, and journaling. 
  • Paying attention to your thoughts and feelings.
  • Seeking professional help if you notice any signs of mental health concerns, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, or changes in sleep patterns. 

Taking care of yourself allows you to be in a better position to offer support to others.

Why Is Mental Health Awareness Month Important?

Unrecognized and untreated mental health conditions can have significant impacts on the people facing them and society as a whole. This is what makes the mission of MHAM so important.

Examples of this impact include:

  • Suicide rate: Suicide is the 12th-leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 48,000 Americans dying by suicide each year. Among those, 46% have a diagnosed mental health condition, and 90% have experienced symptoms of mental illness in their lifetimes.  
  • Treatment gap: Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive mental health services in the past year.  
  • Economic impact: According to the World Health Organization, untreated conditions can cost the global economy up to $1 trillion yearly in loss of productivity.

How to Drive Change in the Mental Health Crisis

Two major shifts are needed to help drive change in the mental health crisis and support. These include:

  • Policy and funding reform: Most states in the U.S. are falling short of the critical funding needed to offer comprehensive and sufficient care and facilities to communities in need. This leaves countless Americans unable to access mental health care. Therefore, increasing treatment funding through policy reform can be the lifeline Americans need to create a more caring society for us all.
  • Reducing stigma: Mental illness often carries stigma that hinders people from seeking help. Research also shows that mental health is not supported or treated with the same urgency as physical conditions, furthering this stigma. Addressing these misconceptions and having open conversations about mental health are vital steps in encouraging people to seek supportive care.

Find Mental Health Help in Pennsylvania Today

If you or a loved one are battling mental illness, you’re not alone. 

At Hope’s Destiny, we offer compassionate, evidence-based mental health treatments in a safe and welcoming environment. 

Whether you need peer support, one-on-one help, family support, or more, we’re here to help you toward a brighter and more fulfilling future. 

With services offered in both English and Spanish, you can be sure to get the culturally inclusive care you need. 

Contact us today to start your recovery journey. 

Sources

A poster for Mental Health Awareness Month featuring a green ribbon symbol
a sign showing outpatient at a facility
Drug addiction rate in Pennsylvania: A concerning issue with increasing numbers of individuals struggling with substance abuse.