Awareness for mental health issues certainly has come a very long way since Mental Health Awareness Month was first observed in 1949. Mental Health Awareness Month first began in the United States and was started by the Mental Health America organization, which was then known as the National Association for Mental Health. Since 1949, the observance has gone global, and activities meant to bring awareness to mental health issues are performed throughout the world.
Ever since wristbands became popular for promoting cancer awareness in the mid-2000s, they have also become part awareness campaigns promoting mental health as well. And even in 2019, these awareness campaigns are still necessary.
While attitudes towards mental health have significantly improved since 1949, throughout the world, sufferers of different kinds of mental illnesses often find themselves suffering alone, and in silence. This suffering is often compounded by the inability of sufferers to articulate their problems, because of a general misunderstanding of mental illnesses as well as the surrounding stigma around it.
If you’re interested in doing your part to participate in
this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, here are a few things you can do:
1.) Learn more about mental health
The first step in spreading awareness of any issue is to learn more about it. Unfortunately, there is plenty of disinformation out there with regards to mental health. Try checking out vetted sources and talking to a professional that deals with mental health issues on a regular basis.
If you have a friend or family member with a mental health issue, take some time to study the symptoms and triggers of their condition. You can also read about the experiences of others with mental health issues similar to that of your loved ones. Just as important to read up on are the experiences of those who had to live with someone with the same mental health issues.
Learning all you can about mental health can go a long way
in helping you be more conscientious in your interactions with those with
mental health issues, and it can be critical for helping spread awareness in a
2.) Adopt a non-judgmental attitude
While this is something that should be the case all year round, Mental Health Awareness month is a good time to remind ourselves to be non-judgmental in our interactions with people with mental health issues as well as people who are completely ignorant about them. Adopting this kind of attitude can open yourself and others to a better understanding not just of mental health, but virtually all other issues that you’re advocating for, as well.
A judgmental attitude, on the other hand, can lead to the opposite effect you want. Those with mental health issues will feel more isolated, and those who are ignorant of mental health issues may become more closed off to new information, and thus harder to inform.
3.) Show off your support
Wearing something that shows your support for mental health awareness can go a long way into sparking healthy discussions. Even something as simple and affordable as an embossed wristband can open up doors to a better understanding of mental health. You can also try pins, shirts, bumper stickers, banners, and social media as other avenues for discussions of the very real problems surrounding mental health today.
The point of Mental Health Awareness Month goes beyond simple “awareness”. Awareness is but the first step into shaping public perceptions and creating positive attitudes and a cultivate a better understanding of mental health. This is especially important to remember as it is likely we will continue to face these issues for decades to come.