Mental Health Awareness Month: Why it Matters and What You Can Do to Help

A female mental health care provider consoles a black female patient.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to increase understanding and reduce stigma around mental illness. Mental health is an essential aspect of overall wellness, and it is important to understand that everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. However, mental health challenges are often stigmatized and misunderstood, preventing people from seeking help when needed.

Mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. According to the World Health Organization, one in four people worldwide will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point. In the United States, one in five adults experiences mental illness yearly, and suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. Further illustrating the prevalence of mental illness, a recent study estimated that the societal and economic burden of mental health conditions in the United States is over $200 billion annually.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought attention to the significance of mental health, as individuals faced heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression due to isolation, financial struggles, and other pandemic-related issues. As a result, it brought awareness to people across the globe who began to face their own challenges. Collectively, we learned the importance of prioritizing mental health and overall well-being.


Understanding Mental Health

Stigmatization of mental health is a pervasive and harmful issue that affects many individuals worldwide and often stems from a lack of understanding and awareness. Mental health stigma refers to negative attitudes, stereotypes, and discrimination surrounding individuals with mental health conditions. This stigma can make it difficult for individuals to seek treatment, share their experiences, and feel accepted within their communities.

It’s essential to break down these stigmas and increase awareness about mental health conditions to create a more supportive and accepting environment for those struggling. Promoting open dialogue and understanding can help individuals feel more comfortable seeking help and reduce the harmful effects of mental health stigma.


The Importance of Mental Health Awareness Month

The United States first observed Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, and it has since become a global movement to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and promote mental health. This year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is using its #morethanenough campaign to focus on practical tools and resources that individuals can use to improve their mental health and well-being.

Mental Health Awareness Month aims to create a supportive community and promote mental health education and resources. By raising awareness and reducing stigma, we can encourage more people to seek help when needed and support those struggling with mental health challenges.


Ways to Support Mental Health Awareness Month

There are many ways to support Mental Health Awareness Month and advocate for mental health in your community. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Share Your Story. Sharing your story can be a powerful way to reduce stigma and inspire others struggling with mental health challenges. By talking openly about your experiences, you can help create a supportive and understanding community. If you’re comfortable with the idea—join NAMI’s #morethanenough campaign and share your story on social media.
  2. Educate Yourself. Mental health is a complex and nuanced topic, and educating yourself about mental health challenges and resources is essential. You can attend workshops, read books and articles, or take online courses to learn more about mental health.
  3. Advocate. Advocacy is critical to reducing stigma, ensuring individuals receive necessary support and care, and increasing research, treatment, and prevention funding. Sharing personal experiences and speaking up about mental health can help others feel less lonely and encourage them to seek help. Education is key to confident advocacy, which involves speaking out, educating others, and supporting mental health care policies. By taking action, we can promote a more supportive society for those facing mental health challenges.
  4. Get Involved in Mental Health Organizations. Many mental health organizations provide support, resources, and advocacy for mental health. By joining these organizations, you can make a difference in your community and promote mental health awareness.
  5. Practice Self-Care. Self-care is crucial for mental health and well-being. It includes exercise, meditation, journaling, and spending time with loved ones. Practicing self-care can reduce stress and improve overall mental health.
  6. Support Others. Supporting others struggling with mental health challenges can significantly impact their lives. You can offer a listening ear, provide resources and support, or help connect them with mental health professionals.


How Salience Health Can Help

We provide comprehensive, evidence-based care for individuals with mental health challenges. Salience Health offers various services, including psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and therapy. We also provide Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy, which is a non-invasive treatment that uses gentle magnetic pulses to repetitively strengthen communication in brain networks that control our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Our team of mental health professionals is committed to providing a supportive and compassionate environment for our patients. We believe in early intervention and work collaboratively with primary care physicians to offer whole-person patient care. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, contact us to learn more about our services and how we can support you during Mental Health Awareness Month and every day after.


Key Takeaways:

  • Mental health is an essential aspect of overall wellness.
  • Stigmatization often stems from a need for more understanding and can often prevent people from seeking the help they need.
  • Mental Health Awareness Month aims to create a supportive community and promote mental health education and resources.