May is Mental Health Awareness Month! This national month of awareness and action has been recognized since 1949, as mental health activists and practitioners across the country work to spread the word that mental health is something everyone should care about.
How To Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month
We’ve compiled some ideas for how you can honor Mental Health Awareness Month on your own, or in community with those you love.
We know that this time can also bring up some big feelings, so feel free to take what resonates, and leave what doesn’t! Just know: everything will be okay.
Attend an event in support of Mental Health Awareness Month.
A great way to spread awareness about mental health is by engaging in events in your community or online to learn more and connect with others who are willing to share their experiences with mental health conditions. On a national scale, you can look forward to Mental Health Action Day on May 19, where organizations, agencies, and brands will come together to encourage folks to get the mental health support they need.
The day before, MTV, in partnership with the Biden-Harris administration, will lead its inaugural Mental Health Youth Action Forum, hosted by Selena Gomez and featuring 30 youth mental health advocates.
You can even host your own event, gathering friends and community members to reach out to elected officials, lead a fundraiser, organize a walk or run, or include a local mental health professional in a forum or Q&A.
Get certified in mental health first aid.
If you’re looking for the tools to directly help others in times of crisis, you should consider getting certified in a mental health first aid course.
Mental Health First Aid offers in-person courses around the country, led by two certified instructors. Participants will learn how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis by identifying, understanding, and responding to signs of addiction or mental health conditions.
If you’re looking for a digital certification, the Born This Way Foundation and Jack.org have created the Be There Certificate, which teaches participants how to recognize when someone might be struggling with their mental health and how to safely support them while maintaining one’s own mental health.
The course is free of charge and has six interactive lessons that can be accessed at any time. It is also offered in English, French, and Spanish.
Share your story.
Part of spreading awareness means sharing your story and your experiences in a safe way. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages folks to share their experiences with mental health to be shared on their website or social media channels.
Additionally, This Is My Brave is an organization that uses storytelling to save lives. Folks can access hundreds of stories on their website, or submit their own stories to connect to a community dedicated to bringing painful, dark stories about mental illness and addiction to light.
Volunteer or donate.
Use your time, talents, or financial means to support a mental health organization! Whether you want to donate to a national nonprofit or support a community member affected by mental illness through a mutual aid fund, your assistance can make a difference.
Contact your representatives to urge them to prioritize mental health.
You have the tools to urge your elected officials to make mental health a priority! Here are a few things you can do:
- Ask your governor or mayor to formally declare May as Mental Health Month. Mental Health America has a toolkit with a sample proclamation.
- Check out Mental Health America’s State of Mental Health In America report and share it with your elected officials.
- Contact your member of Congress or Senator to express why you think they should make mental health policy a priority — remember, midterms are coming up!
Learn more about your own mental health.
Learning more about your own mental health can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. Do this by taking an online mental health screening. You can use this opportunity to seek professional help (in the form of therapy), journal about your findings, or connect with a loved one who may also have experience with a certain mental health condition.
Listen to mental health podcasts.
Podcasts aren’t the same as therapy or counseling, but they sure can help us feel seen and understood in new ways — especially when they’re made by brilliant professionals or folks with lived experiences. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite mental health podcasts for you to get a head start.
Follow creators or bookmark resources sharing reliable information about mental health.
Like we said, TikTok therapy isn’t always the best form of mental health care, but creators, apps, and campaigns can be amazing at using the Internet for good. Trust us; we’ve found them!
Read books or articles about mental health.
We’re certain your local library has a wide array of resources for your mental health studies, but if you’re looking for some new approaches, here are a few learning opportunities for you to expand your mental health knowledge:
- This Mental Health Media Guide that is changing the way the entertainment industry tells stories about mental health
- This list of book recommendations that will leave you feeling more hopeful (and with a big TBR list)
- This compilation of good news stories about mental health
- This website, called Find Center, where you can curate a feed of information on a variety of topics, like anxiety, depression, ADHD, eating disorders, relationships, and more.
By Taking Care of Yourself
Create strong self-care practices.
Self-care is a big buzzword these days, but we encourage you to create strong, proactive self-care practices that give you the energy and space to thrive.
Find a therapist.
A great therapist can help you gain valuable insights, provide support and guidance when you are facing challenges, help you confront and heal trauma, and give you the tools to create a life you love. You deserve to find your perfect fit! Good news: we created a comprehensive guide to finding a therapist.
Celebrate good news.
When we fill our brains with reminders that there’s lots of good in the world, it helps us feel more hopeful about the future and encourages us to be a part of creating that better future.
And, lastly, when you’ve found good news — make sure you share it with others too!
Here are a few positive news stories to get you started:
- Depression Stigma Has Decreased for the First Time in the U.S.
- This Social Worker is Using Sports and Streetwear to Reach People
- These Barbers Are Helping Black Men Talk About Mental Health
- North Carolina Just Opened Their First Peer-Run Respite Center as an Alternative to Hospitalization for People in Mental Health Distress
Consume the news thoughtfully.
Although we’re big fans of finding the good, we know that the news can feel incredibly heavy at times. While it’s important to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world, (because the privilege of experiencing bad news through the news comes with the requirement that you use that privilege for good) you can still consume the news responsibly.
Choose who you get your news from thoughtfully. (Our podcast episodes with Sharon McMahon and the founder of Ground News dive into this topic.) We’ve also put together a guide on how to read the news with intentionality.
Apps like Headspace, Calm, and Breethe make self-care activities like mediation easy and accessible. Give your meditation practice a go this month and see what can happen when you expand your self care toolkit.
By Sharing Resources With Others
Share mental health resources.
Making mental health resources widely accessible makes it that much easier for even one person to get the help they need. When you’re sharing about mental health this month, be sure to make resources available.
You can view our mental health resource guide here!
Be thoughtful about the information you share online.
That being said, if you choose to engage with mental health stories and resources online this month, keep in mind that these topics can be heavy and triggering for others. Consider adding content warnings to your posts or encouraging others to do the same.
Disability rights activist Liz Sparrow has a great beginner’s guide to trigger warnings to get you started.
If you’re an employer, host professional events and initiatives that support employee mental health.
Whether this is hosting a stress reduction workshop, implementing new time-off policies, welcoming a mental health speaker, or leading a company-wide discussion, you have the privilege and responsibility to make your work environment safe, inclusive, and filled with resources that support employee wellbeing.
Check out Empower Work, a program that provides confidential support for work challenges.
Empower Work is a nonprofit on a mission to build healthier, more equitable workplaces. They offer immediate, confidential support for work challenges through SMS or webchat with trained peer counselors.
Advocate for or use mental health days or paid time off.
Mental health days are an important tool for all workers to access time off when they need to, while also facilitating important conversations about mental health and burnout in the workplace.
Perhaps this month is the time for your company to roll out company-wide mental health days, or even more generous paid time-off offerings. By prioritizing time to rest, we can boost morale, redefine the modern workplace, and show people we care.
Use your platform or company to advocate for mental health.
Raise funds, release a product supporting mental health awareness, create a social media campaign, publish a blog post, or invest in new benefits that support your team and your community during Mental Health Awareness Month. Whatever you do, we encourage you to use reliable research to make your offerings inclusive and equitable.
Offer resources and information to students.
Teachers and trusted adults are responsible for making sure that students know what mental health resources are available to them. This is a great time to initiate conversations about mental health or remind students how they can come to you for help.
If your school doesn’t have a lot of resources or materials for these conversations, mentalhealth.gov has a great landing page for educators to help get the ball rolling.
Engage in a Mental Health Awareness Month project at school.
Can you hand out lime green ribbons for mental health awareness? Is there a suitable movie or documentary viewing and discussion you can share with your students? What about celebrating your appreciation for school counselors or social workers during this time?
Consider hosting a spirit day in your school to open the dialogue about mental health and engage with one another in a meaningful way.
Support LGBTQ+ youth.
LGBTQ+ youth are at an increased risk for mental health conditions and suicide. In fact, The Trevor Project — an organization that works to prevent suicide in LGBTQ+ youth — found that LGBTQ+ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in 2019.
There are a number of ways to support LGBTQ+ youth inside and out of the classroom — we even have a comprehensive guide! In the meantime, consider doing the following:
- Designate your classroom as an LGBTQ+ safe space
- Take an ally training course through The Trevor Project with your colleagues
- Sponsor a Gay Straight Alliance or other inclusive club in your school. The Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network has awesome resources for teachers and students.
Host a Q&A with a mental health professional for parents and students.
School administration and counseling teams can host a forum for parents and students, offering expert insights into mental health.
Choose a topic and host a Q&A style chat for parents with a clinician or representative from your local Department of Behavioral Health. This can also be done for students during the school day, all inviting participants to ask experts any questions they may have regarding mental health.
Educators may consider creating a safe space for students to anonymously submit questions, to keep things well-organized and confidential.
Get help if you need it.
All of these action items and activities are a great way to get you and your community involved in the conversation surrounding mental health. However, we know that when you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be hard to find the help, support, and community you need.
If you are in immediate need of safety, please contact the following:
Emergency Medical Services
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Crisis Text Line
Text CRISIS to 741-741
And if you are not in immediate crisis and would still like access to more resources, visit our list of Mental Health Resources for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What month is National Mental Health Awareness Month?
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Advocates, organizations, and professionals observe this month by sharing information in the media, hosting awareness events, and performing mental health screenings. The goal of Mental Health Awareness Month is to increase knowledge and end the stigma surrounding mental health.
What is the theme for Mental Health Month 2022?
The theme of Mental Health Awareness Month 2022 is “Back to Basics,” according to Mental Health America. Advocates will aim to provide foundational knowledge about mental health and mental health conditions, providing information to all people about what they can do if they are concerned about their mental health.
Is October or May Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental Health Awareness Month takes place during the month of May. However, National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, as well as ADHD Awareness Month, are celebrated in the month of October. It can be easy to get them mixed up!
When is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10. Like other cause awareness holidays, World Mental Health Day seeks to raise awareness. According to the World Health Organization, the goal of World Mental Health Day is to mobilize efforts in support of mental health and improve mental health care worldwide.
May is also Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month — and you can learn how to celebrate in our guide.