May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and now more than ever, more people are struggling with the reality of mental illness. During the month of May, organizations such as Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and many more seek to not only raise awareness of those living with behavioral or mental health issues but also help reduce the stigma that so many people experience. Each year, this national movement provides support to those affected, educates the public, and advocates for policies and laws that help people with mental illnesses and their families.
According to American Counseling Association, “1 in 5 people will experience mental illness over the course of their lifetimes and everyone will face challenges that can and will affect their mental health.” The COVID-19 pandemic has also made things worse for people of all ages. The existing stigma against mental health often prevents individuals from seeking help.
If you are interested in learning more about Mental Health Awareness Month, there is an excellent toolkit from Mental Health America that you can download and look over HERE. This toolkit covers topics such as adapting after trauma and stress, dealing with anger and frustration, getting out of thinking traps, processing significant changes, taking time for yourself, and radical acceptance.
Another way to make a difference is by participating in the Mental Health First Aid movement. This cause seeks to increase mental health awareness and provide the skills to help people make a difference in the lives of their family and friends and their communities. It covers the five-step action plan ALGEE, which is used to support someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or experiencing an emotional crisis:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen nonjudgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
*If you are interested in learning more information, please go to Compass Health’s website HERE.
You can also raise awareness by sharing your story on social media. Throughout May, share your personal story about your experience with mental health conditions. By sharing your own experiences on social media, you are helping those who are silently struggling by making them feel less alone in their journey in mental health.