Family and Consumer Sciences: May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. Millions of people live with a mental health condition. In fact, the current estimate in the United States is one in five people will experience a mental health condition in their lives.
This means that mental illness affects everyone through friends and family. The purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness by reducing stigma and providing support and education. The theme for 2018 is “Whole Body Mental Health.” Information for this year will focus on increasing understanding of how the body’s various systems impact mental health. The color many people use or wear to represent mental health awareness is green. When we take action to raise awareness about mental health conditions, we help to break down obstacles. This helps improve the chance for recovery. One idea for taking action is to take the stigma-free pledge. There are three parts to the pledge. The first part is learning more about mental health by educating yourself and others. The second part is seeing the person and not the illness. The final part is pledging to take action by spreading the word and making a difference. The stigma free pledge is online at https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/What-Can-I-Do. Here are some other ways you can take action and become a leader in the mental health awareness:
1. Ask your mayor or county judge to make a proclamation. Encourage community leaders to officially recognize mental health awareness events such as May Mental Health Awareness Month.
2. Take action on advocacy issues. Policy change is one of the best ways to make a difference in the lives of people with mental health conditions.
3. Ask people and organizations to go green. Light up buildings or landmarks with green to show support for mental health awareness. Wear green in your community to show your support. Hand out green ribbons for people to wear or to hang in windows or other public places.
4. Address cultural barriers. There are some great resources on the NAMI website for helping people to talk about cultural beliefs and mental health.
5. Speak with teens. Mental health conditions often start early. Teens may not seek out help because of stigma, fear and lack of awareness. Talking with teens can help them feel more comfortable speaking up when they need help or need to help a friend. 6. Share information or host an event in your community. Add mental health awareness information to information boards in public places. Create an exhibit featuring materials about mental health. Host a resource fair.